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What is the Average Age of Menopause?

By Laura A.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating. The average age of menopause is 51 years old but the actual age varies from woman to woman. A few of the factors that determine the age of menopause are overall health, activity level and genetics. Women tend to undergo menopause at approximately the same age their mothers did.

The end of a woman’s fertile years is known as menopause. Estrogen levels decrease as a woman ages, eventually leading to the cessation of ovarian function and menstruation. Menopause marks the end of a woman’s childbearing years. This happens gradually over the course of several years. It’s a natural part of life that doesn’t require any medical intervention, although some women turn to medicine to alleviate their symptoms.

Menopause normally happens between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age of menopause is 51 but it’s not unusual for it to happen earlier or later. Genetics and lifestyle can play a role in determining the actual age of menopause. The average age of menopause has actually increased over the last hundred years from age 45 to age 51.

Among the first physical signs of menopause are irregular periods, night sweats and hot flashes. Mental symptoms such as mood swings and loss of libido are also common. Most of these symptoms can be alleviated with over the counter or herbal remedies. Doctors sometimes recommend hormone replacement therapy for cases of severe menopausal discomfort.

The period of time that immediately precedes menopause is known as perimenopause or premenopause. Perimenopause can begin as early as the late 30s. This stage can last anywhere from a few months to a few years and is always followed by menopause. This is when many women experience the most intense symptoms of menopause, especially the mood swings. Menopause does not officially occur until the woman’s period has been absent for twelve consecutive months.

Early menopause can be caused by poor nutrition. Women who smoke might experience menopause earlier because excessive nicotine use damages the ovaries. Certain operations can bring on menopause unnaturally early, such as a hysterectomy. In some cases, chemotherapy leads to premature menopause.

Some women experience menopause much later in life. Multiple pregnancies are one possible cause of an advanced age of menopause. Overweight women often experience menopause later than women at a healthy weight. Genetics also play a role. Women whose mothers experienced late menopause tend to follow that same pattern.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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