Research Indicates Menopause Symptoms Can Start Much Earlier Than You Think

When it comes to menopause, most of us have an idea of when we'll embark on this part of the aging process. According to the National Institute on Aging, menopause usually starts when you're between the ages of 45 and 55 and typically takes around seven years — but could last as long as 14 years. Yikes.

Most of us think we know what happens to your body when you go through menopause: period changes, difficulty sleeping, and, of course, the dreaded hot flashes. Still, there are plenty of menopause symptoms no one has prepared you for, and these can be particularly hard to identify if you don't expect to be going through menopause yet in the first place. 

A new study by The Journal of The North American Menopause Society has uncovered new findings about menopause and how early its symptoms may start. While this information may leave some younger folks more concerned about embarking on menopause, being equipped with all the facts is the best way to be prepared for what's to come.

Menopause symptoms may start earlier than previously believed

The new study by The Journal of The North American Menopause Society indicates that symptoms of menopause may begin affecting you well before you technically start menopause. "Women in the late-reproductive stage who are menstruating regularly but noting changes in cycle length or duration may experience many symptoms typically associated with the menopausal transition," said Yamnia Cortés, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina and author of the study, via US News & World Report

Over 350 Spanish-speaking women between the ages of 35 and 55 filled out a survey for the study, which included questions about certain menopausal symptoms and the participants' menstrual cycles. Data collected indicated that participants in the later portion of their reproductive stage were experiencing eight out of 18 of the most typical symptoms of menopause, including fatigue, lack of focus, urinary issues, anxiety, and irritability. 

Being aware of these symptoms is important because it can help you get the appropriate treatment, such as hormonal therapy. Cortés advises, "Have a conversation with your health care provider about what to expect during the menopausal transition and what steps you can take now to prepare."