What age do women go through menopause at?

Many of us are caught off-guard by the first signs of menopause. We wouldn’t expect to have menopausal symptoms while we still have periods. What does it mean to be in the menopause?

Menopause age can vary widely - it usually takes place between the ages of 48 and 55.

Menopause age can vary widely - it usually takes place between the ages of 48 and 55.

What age do women go through menopause at?

There's a lot of confusion out there, I find a lot of women, myself included, wonder 'what age do you expect menopause?' For most of us, the menopause will happen between the ages of 48 and 55. The average age for women to experience menopause in Ireland is 50 years. We can start to experience symptoms up to eight years before that time, during a phase called ‘perimenopause’. For some of us, menopause could commence in our 30s and for others in our 50s. You will also find that most information available concerning menopause will give you slightly different average ages or age ranges. This can lead to confusion, but it is because we are all different.

For most of us, our last period will be preceded by the phase of menopausal changes and transition known as the perimenopause. During this phase, we may experience a wide variety of symptoms of the menopause including hot flushes, mood swings, insomnia and anxiety. Some symptoms will be barely perceptible. Others will be intense. Some of us may experience these symptoms but may not associate them directly with the menopause as they can be quite commonplace, such as a lack of confidence, anxiety, a loss of interest in sex and difficulty sleeping.

What age do you expect menopause?

It is true that the age at which we reach menopause is related to the age at which our mothers reached menopause. Women who have had babies late in their childbearing years tend to have a later menopause. Some women may go through early or premature menopause – before the age of 40, and again this may be hereditary. There is not necessarily a link between the onset of puberty and menopause. For example, if your periods started late you will not always have late menopause.

What is the average age for menopause in Ireland?

When and how menopause begins varies from one woman to the next. However, the average menopause age for Irish women is 50. Menopause is defined as the point when you have your last ever period. It will only be in retrospect that you are aware of this occurrence, and you will need to have had no periods for 12 months for menopause to have occurred. Most of our symptoms take place during the phase called perimenopause, 4-8 years before menopause. When women talk about going through the menopause, this is the stage that they are really talking about.

Other symptoms, such as osteoporosis and urinary incontinence, are more likely to occur after the menopause.

What is post-menopausal?

For most women, the key symptoms of menopause ease one year after their final period. At this stage hormone fluctuations become more stabilised. However, for some of us, symptoms carry on longer, many years after the time of official onset of menopause. It is also possible, in rare cases, for some women to have occasional symptoms, such as hot flushes, into their 60s and sometimes 70s.

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