How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
When you are in the thick of perimenopause, there is no doubt; it can feel like it’s going to last forever. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you might even question whether you’re going to come out sane on the other side.
Mood swings, panic attacks, heart palpitations, erratic menstrual cycles, irritability, rage and depression, are all symptoms of perimenopause which can not only make women feel as if they are literally going crazy, but can cause no end of despair if they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Thankfully, perimenopause does eventually end, and normalcy returns when actual menopause is reached. However, like the actual experience of perimenopause itself, how long the entire process takes is highly individual.
Some women seem to glide through perimenopause in a couple of short years, hardly noticing the bumps along the way. Others, myself included, struggle through years of difficult symptoms with varying degrees of intensity before they finally reach menopause.
Your Experience is Normal
One of the problems with measuring health experiences against statistics and averages, is that if our experience does not fall within what might be called the “average or normal range” we assume that our experience is not normal, when this is just not the case.
For example: statistically, the average length of time that women are in perimenopause is said to be about four years. However, perimenopause can actually last as long as 12 to 15 years for some women, and as little as 2 to 3 years for others. All experiences on either side of the average and all points in between are normal.
I am one of those women who experienced perimenopause over a time period of close to 15 years. I was 41 years old when the first noticeable symptoms began. But I did not reach actual menopause until the age of 55. However, it is important to point out, that the severity and intensity of my symptoms did not last 15 years.
There was an approximate period of 4 to 5 years where my symptoms were very intense and difficult to manage. But, even within that time frame, there was an ebb and flow. Meaning, that if you measured the intensity of my symptoms on a scale of 1 to 10, they weren’t always a 10 or a 1, and they often fell at various places in between as well.
Perimenopause is a spectrum experience. For each individual woman there are various degrees of intensity with the symptoms, and how long they last. Whatever your experience is, that experience is normal. The important thing to remember is that perimenopause is a normal life cycle for every woman which eventually culminates in actual menopause.
While it may sometimes feel like a “forever” experience, you can rest assured that it is not. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. Once you reach menopause, the wild and crazy ride of hormone imbalance will cease. Until then keep your seat belt buckled and hang on!
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.