There is a wide range of when women begin to experience hot flashes/flushes and the duration of these symptoms. One study showed that the average duration of hot flashes was 7.4 years starting a few years before menopause and continuing for about 4 years after a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP). Black women and women who began to experience symptoms at a younger age tended to have a longer duration of symptoms as did women with more anxiety and depression.
Research has shown that there is a wide range of when hot flashes/flushes begin and how long they last. The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN study) looked at women in five different ethnic groups in the US to characterize symptoms of hot flashes before, during and after menopause. It showed four different patterns of hot flashes/flushes that women may experience.
- 27% of women had a low probability of having hot flashes throughout perimenopause and menopause. These women were more likely to have symptoms right around their LMP that improved within 2-4 years after menopause.
- 18.4% of women had symptoms that began long before their LMP (about a decade), but their hot flashes/flushes began to improve shortly after they entered menopause.
- 29% of women had symptoms that increased shortly before menopause, peaked right after their LMP, and then gradually declined over several years.
- 25.6% of women had a high probability of having hot flashes starting long before their LMP that continued for over a decade after their LMP.
As you can see, there is a wide range of when and for how long women experience hot flashes. Whenever your symptoms began and however long they last, there are many women with similar experiences. Fortunately, this very common and disruptive symptom of menopause is treatable.