Dr. Sarrel recalls how long menopause usually lasts.
How long does menopause last is a very good question because the concept that women have and many, not all the women, the general public has is that it’s sort of like it goes on. It’s a moment in time. A menopause is the moment of the last menstrual flow. Now, there is a period of time that’s called the perimenopause, and we think of that basically as the two years before and the two years after the last menstrual flow.
So the last menstrual flow is at an average age of 51, we’re talking about say from age 49 to age 53 would be sort of the top of the curve for women having symptoms related to decreasing levels of hormone production, and then a wipeout of it. The reason for that concept is important because it’s the time when you want to be aware that this change is occurring so that if an intervention is called for, you can do it.
Probably the most important in that time is not so much hot flashes, it’s bone loss, because we know about 40% of women, by the time they get to their last period, about 40% are called rapid bone losers, and in those women they can lose as much as ten-percent of all their bone mass by the time they get to their last period.
So the two years earlier when they are starting to get flushes and sleep disturbance and all these symptoms we have been talking about, they haven’t graduated yet, they are approaching the menopause. But it’s a time when you would want to take steps to help them protect themselves even though they haven’t gotten to their last period.
About Dr. Sarrel, M.D.:
Philip M. Sarrel, M.D., completed his medical education at New York University School of Medicine, his internship at the Mount Sinai Hospital, and his residency at Yale New Haven Hospital. In addition to his many years on the faculty of the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Sarrel has also been a Faculty Scholar in the department of psychiatry at Oxford University, Visiting Senior Lecturer at King’s College Hospital Medical School at the University of London, Visiting Professor in Cardiac Medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London, and Visiting Professor in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He is currently Emeritus Professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and psychiatry at Yale University.