At What Age Does Menopause Begin?

Last update: 20 July, 2018

Menopause is a period of time that sooner or later affects all women. It determines the end of their fertility and the beginning of a new way of  life.

It is one of the most feared moments for many women. Many myths exist around menopause. In general, menopause begins between 45 and 55 years of age, but can be earlier or later.

Part of a natural cycle

With a few exceptions, menopause is the culmination of the female reproductive cycle. It is a process that begins with the first menstruation, which takes place between nine and fifteen years of age.

From that moment, women start their entire period of fertility until premenopause begins (a phenomenon that occurs between three and seven years before menopause).

Menopause is the last menstruation in a woman’s life. Technically, perimenopause is the period of time that elapses between premenopause and the first year of postmenopause.

The symptoms

Menopause symptoms are based in legends and myths. Many menopause symptoms are well known; although not all cases are exactly the same.

It is estimated that at least 80 percent of patients present some of the signs that mark the onset of menopause. Some of the most well-known symptoms are:


Hot flashes

Hot flashes, getting hot and feeling overwhelmed are the most common symptoms of all. They are caused by an estrogen deficit, the main female sex hormone, causing the regulation of body temperature to become more difficult.

In most cases they usually appear from the beginning until two years after the last menstruation. Although in one of every ten patients, they can extend to beyond 70 years of age.


Night sweats and sleep disorders

Many of the symptoms of menopause take place late at night. In addition, they occur suddenly, without any external influence and independent of the time of year.

This excessive perspiration in turn causes disorders within the cycle of sleep and rest, which in turn results in episodes of irritability and bad mood. However, many women who experience this, may suffer from prolonged insomnia, independent of night sweats.


Irregular menstruation

This is another unmistakable sign of the onset of menopause. The menstrual cycle can be shortened or lengthened. There are also cases in which menopausal women may bleed more than once in the same month.

As time goes by, menstruation will become less and less frequent. In addition, the episodes will be more spaced, until they finally disappear completely.


More signs

Another common symptom within this stage is vaginal dryness. The decrease in the production of estrogen is in addition to the possible presence of pain and other discomfort during sexual intercourse. This can cause, consciously or unconsciously, disinterest or loss of desire.

The deficit of the female sex hormone can also bring about joint pains; This symptom can lead to osteoporosis. However, this does not necessarily mean that all women will suffer from discomfort in their knees or ankles during menopause.

On the other hand, these drastic hormonal changes sometimes affect the mood, that could lead to episodes of irritability and bad mood. This last symptom can become a real problem for patients and their environment, if combined with sadness and depression.

What happens if the beginning of menopause occurs earlier than normal?

When menopause occurs between 40 and 45 years old, it is considered usual. But if it takes place before 40 years of age, it is considered early. The symptoms are the same, only that specialists recommend being particularly alert during postmenopause.

Women whose disappearance of bleeding occurs sooner than expected are more likely to have cardiovascular disease. Especially those who are smokers.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.