Answers to 5 Frequently Asked Questions about Menopause

Written By: Women & Infants Hospital on February 22, 2024

Whether you're approaching menopause, currently experiencing it, or supporting a loved one through it, we've got you covered. 

As a natural part of the aging process, menopause brings about many changes in a person’s body and life. In this blog, we’ll address five frequently asked questions about menopause. We’ll provide you with practical advice and insights to navigate this journey with confidence. 

1. When does menopause start?

Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, with the average age for a menopause diagnosis being 51 in the U.S.

Perimenopause (sometimes referred to as pre-menopause), however, usually begins in your 40s but can begin earlier, too. Those who smoke usually start perimenopause two years earlier than nonsmokers.

Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause when you notice a change in your periods and have other menopause-related symptoms.

2. What are the common menopause signs and symptoms?

Menopause symptoms can vary by person – some have severe symptoms, while for others they’re mild. The first sign of menopause is a change in your periods. Your periods can become shorter, longer, heavier, or lighter. You may even skip your period.

Other common symptoms include:
  • Hot flashes – Sudden feeling of heat in your face and upper body. Hot flashes can be extremely uncomfortable but usually last only a few minutes.
  • Night sweats – Hot flashes that happen at night while you sleep.
  • Sleep issues – You may experience trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may even wake earlier than you’re used to.
  • Mood changes – As your hormones change you may feel more anxious, irritable, and/or tired.
  • Vaginal changes – Your vagina’s lining can become thinner, drier, or less “stretchy” which can cause discomfort or pain during sex.
  • Changes in sex drive – It may become more difficult to get aroused or you may lose interest in sex.
  • Urinary or bladder changes – You may find yourself peeing more often. Frequent urinary tract and bladder infections are also common.
  • Bone weakness – Menopause can lead to loss of bone density and osteoporosis.

3. What is the treatment for menopause?

While there is no treatment for menopause itself, there are ways to treat the symptoms.
  • Hormone Therapy - Estrogen therapy can help treat those uncomfortable hot flashes. Estrogen may also prevent bone loss.
  • Vaginal estrogen – This can help alleviate vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and some urinary issues.
  • Antidepressants – In low doses, some antidepressants can decrease hot flashes.
  • Other medications – Other medicines on the market can help with menopausal hot flashes, mood changes, osteoporosis, and other menopause symptoms. Consult with your doctor to find the right option for you.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and lifestyle changes can also help menopause symptoms.

4. How long does menopause last?

Menopause can be divided into three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
  • Perimenopause usually begins 3-5 years before menopause - in one’s 40s.
  • Menopause begins 12 months after a person’s last period. The menopausal transition lasts, on average seven years. However, it can be as long as 14 years.
  • Post-menopause lasts for the remainder of your life. You may still experience symptoms of menopause – however, these usually dissipate over time.  

5. What other health issues can menopause cause?

Several health issues can increase as you go through menopause, including:
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Slowing metabolism
  • Thyroid problems
Your risk for these and any menopause-related condition depends on several factors like your family history, health before menopause, and lifestyle.

It’s important to continue regular doctor’s visits throughout menopause and post-menopause to identify and treat any potentially dangerous health issues

Seeking Support and Treatment for Menopause

If you have any questions about menopause symptoms or treatments, visit your gynecologist.

Women & Infants Hospital also has a Menopause Program to which your doctor can refer you. This program offers evaluation and treatment of symptoms, along with preventative care for breast health, bone health and osteoporosis screening, emotional health, and cardiovascular screening.


Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not serve as medical advice, consultation, or diagnosis. If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider, or seek immediate medical treatment.