How to know when menopause is over

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

26 March 2018

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about "How do you know when the menopause is over?" This is such a common question that I get asked and quite rightly so. When you're in the middle of the menopause and feeling really awful, or you're just having a tough time, the thought of knowing when it's all going to end could be really helpful. 

How long does menopause?

The problem is that this is another one of those really difficult questions to answer. And what I get asked a lot about in this situation is "How long does the menopause last?" Because if you know how long it's going to last, that will give you a rough idea when it's coming to an end for you. But the problem here is that every single woman will have a different menopause. 

Every single one of you sitting out there tonight will have a unique menopause that's just yours and yours alone. There is no one size fits all. Now, we could have 10 women all squashed up on the settee sitting here, all the same age, all going through the menopause, and they would each have a completely different experience, and this is why it's so difficult to answer these types of questions.

So roughly, I mean, all I can say here is this is a very rough guide, and normally, the average length of time for the perimenopause is about three years. So from the moment that you notice your hormones are changing, that you're getting some kind of menopausal symptom or symptoms, until your periods stop for good, the average length of time is about three years. 

Now, for some women, it's going to be very quick. They might not even really notice much going on until they suddenly realise they haven't had a period for a few months. For other women, this perimenopausal phase could last up to seven or eight years. So again, this is going to be unique for you.

Once your periods have stopped, when they've been stopped for two years, then you're considered to be postmenopause. Now, I know I spoke about this, I think last week, about some sources say when you've finished your periods for a year, then you're considered through the menopause. We like to say two just to be totally on the safe side. So roughly, for the average woman, you're talking about five years in total. 

But remember, in some women, it's going to be a lot shorter and easier, and for some women, it's going to be a lot longer and possibly harder.

What are the signs that menopause is finally over?

I'm also asked, "What are the signs that the menopause is finally over?" Usually, it's just a case of you start to feel better. 

Your symptoms have eased off or stopped. You're more like you, or you feel better. You're sleeping better. Your health is better. And normally, that's the point when you can say to yourself, "Thank goodness. That's it. Finally, all over and done with." 

Why am I still getting symptoms after menopause?

But we also get a large number of women wanting to know why they're still getting symptoms well through the menopause. Now, remember, once your periods have stopped for two years, that's you postmenopausal, but your hormones just don't suddenly stop changing after the two years. Your hormonal balance can continue to change and fluctuate for a good number of years after that. 

And for some women, this continual hormonal change will continue to trigger menopause symptoms. But what we do tend to say is if you are still getting menopausal symptoms after about four or five years or longer after your periods have finally stopped, then we advise you just to get things checked out by your doctor. 

Other health issues can creep in. The poor menopause can get the blame. And, you know, a lot of women will try menopausal remedies and find that they don't really work because other health issues have taken over the role, if you like, and are continuing to trigger menopause-like symptoms. So it's really important, in this situation, just ask for a health check from your doctor because if it is anything else, very often, it can be sorted, and that will make you feel better in the long run. 

Coming off HRT

Now, the one other thing that I want to mention here is if you are coming off HRT, what happens here is you are getting a very quick hormonal fall from the level of hormones that the HRT is giving you to your own natural hormone levels, which will be quite low, especially if you've been on HRT a long time.  

And this sudden stopping of HRT can trigger menopausal symptoms. And what can happen here... If you're 65, and you went through the menopause in your mid-50s and you come off HRT, you may start to get menopause symptoms again. Unlike a natural menopause, your body may take quite a while to rebalance itself after coming off HRT, but again, this doesn't happen to everybody. 

Some women can come off HRT and be absolutely fine, but unfortunately, you won't know what's going to happen until you come off the HRT.

How will I feel after the menopause?

And the last question, and probably a really, really important one is "How will you feel when it's all over?" Now, there is absolutely no reason why you can't feel as good, if not better than you did before the menopause because the monthly cycle takes quite a lot of energy out of you. 

So once your hormones have stopped this cycle completely and you're through the menopause, you can very often have a lot more energy. You can become much more focused. You can be more energetic. So there's absolutely no reason why you can't have a great life after the menopause. 

But, and this is a real big but, it can take a lot of hard work. If you think about it, if you've gone through the average five years, for five whole years, your body has been under a huge amount of stress from all the hormonal changes that have been going on. 

Your body has had to work really hard. It's maybe had to really struggle. And once your hormone levels have balanced off, your body still has to recuperate and, you know, as women today, we tend to really push our bodies. So you need to realise that especially, once your periods stop, that this is the point when you have to take care of yourself really well. 

You have to have a good diet. You have to have good nutrition. You have to have that rest and relaxation because the better that you look after yourself now, the better that your postmenopausal years are going to be, and that is a really great incentive. 

So I hope this has given you a little bit of more information and a bit of hope just to realise that, you know, it's not all doom and gloom. And although when you're in it, you sometimes can't even imagine where the end will be, there is one.

So until next week, I'll look forward to seeing you for another A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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