Finally, you’ve marked 12 consecutive months without a period. Finally, the periods have stopped and you have hit menopause. What happens next can be called early post-menopause. It is the phase between perimenopause (with its high and volatile levels of estrogen) and later post-menopause (when estrogen production is very low and mostly stable, i.e., the new normal). To get from one phase to the other, imagine what has to happen. High estrogen levels during perimenopause will start to decline. This process may not be smooth or even and it won’t be quick.
Since there are no more periods, all those symptoms go away. However, the symptoms related to estrogen and estrogen fluctuation remain: hot flashes, vaginal discomfort, anxiety, irritability With the continual overall decline of estrogen, more symptoms can arise - urogenital issues (i.e., incontinence), cognitive issues.
There are many places where you can find long lists of menopause symptoms. They are useful to familiarize yourself with. [However, it is more important to pay attention to what’s happening to you. Again, self-awareness is crucial.]
How long do symptoms last? Again, research studies and survey data differ. For a pretty decent proxy, we can look at the research data related to hot flashes, the hallmark symptom for the transition of menopause, because they are related to changes in estrogen and they can show up in perimenopause and persist post-menopause. In the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN Study), they assessed thousands of women over 17 years. It was determined that the median time span women experienced hot flashes was 7.4 years in total with 4.5 years after their final menstrual period. If we reasonably see hot flashes as signal hormonal profiles are changing then it would be reasonable to conclude the transition is about 7 years in total and early post-menopause can last 4 to 5 years.