I have heard that it can last anywhere from one year to five years. Can you help with the answer?
The process of reaching menopause is called perimenopause. Perimenopause is the time when your periods become less and less regular, and symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, depression, libido changes, and vaginal dryness kick in. It can begin 3-5 years before the last period.
Duration of these menopausal symptoms varies based on lifestyle, treatments chosen, and medical history. One longitudinal study on 438 women found the average duration between first and last experience of hot flashes was 5.2 years in women who had never used hormone replacement therapy.
Based on this information, I'd say that five years is a pretty good answer, but again it's so variable and so easily affected by lifestyle, genetics, and treatments that it's impossible to predict for certain.
Each woman's experience of menopause is different. When it starts, how long it lasts and what symptoms she experiences, are different for each woman.
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