Women who are starting menopause usually have two questions — how long does it last and what can you do about those uncomfortable hot flashes?
AT WHAT AGE DOES MENOPAUSE START + HOW LONG DOES MENOPAUSE LAST?
Well, it varies from woman to woman, but menopause generally starts around age 50, give or take five years, OBGYN and author of The Queen V: Everything You Need to Know about Sex, Intimacy, and Down There Health Care, Dr. Jackie Walters, says. And to be fully in menopause you have to have gone a full year without a period. If you haven't, you're still in a perimenopausal phase — and the whole transition can take about seven years.
With that said, unfortunately, there's not a one-answer-fits-all when it comes to when you'll start menopause and how long it will last. In fact, so much of it has to do with genetics (when did your mom get it?) and lifestyle, Dr. Jackie says.
For example, "Women who smoke will go through menopause sooner because of the nicotine," she explains.
Diet, exercise and cancer treatments like chemo can also play a role in the timing, she says.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT HOT FLASHES?
As for hot flashes, they're a result of a decrease in estrogen, the OBGYN explains. "With a lack of estrogen, you're going to get those hot flashes, because that thermoregulatory center in your brain is not getting that estrogen."
So, is there anything women can do about it? (🙏)
You can talk to your doctor about hormone treatments, Dr. Jackie suggests. She personally likes something called bioidentical pellets, which are made from plants and get implanted under the skin.
"We draw blood levels to see what dose you really need," she explains. "You'll have to take some progesterone to balance out the estrogen, but it gets rid of the hot flashes and all of the brain fog. And it increases your libido."
Otherwise, there are patches, rings and creams, the OBGYN says. There are also herbal treatments you can try, but it's hard to know the right dosage. So talk to your doctor about your options before you try any treatments.