What Causes Late-Onset Menopause?

3 minute read

By: Alloy Staff|Last updated: May 11, 2022
Medically reviewed by: Sharon D. Malone

Menopause is a natural rite of passage ushered in by fluctuating hormone levels and tell-tale symptoms including hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings. Even though the menopausal transition for women is universal, the timing of this stage of life is not. The exact age of onset for menopause varies. Most women begin menopause between 45 and 55, with the average being 51.  

What Age Is Considered Late Menopause?

Have all of your friends started to talk about their menopausal symptoms and about how they are looking forward to having their period days behind them? Are you wondering why you haven’t had a single hot flash and worrying that something may be wrong? Rest easy—there is no need for concern. Late-onset menopause, defined as menopause that starts after the age of 55, is normal, and we are here to help guide you through it.

Late-Onset Menopause

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons associated with late-onset menopause.  Knowing the benefits and risks of starting this transition later than average will allow you to work with your healthcare provider to take the steps needed to keep you healthy and feeling great. 

Benefits of Late-Onset Menopause

Studies have found that there are several benefits to late-onset menopause. Starting menopause after 55 is associated with living longer and having a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. 

Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis

Women who go through menopause later have a reduced risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones. Women with late-onset menopause maintain stronger bones that are less likely to break or fracture. Maintaining healthy bones will help you to keep an active lifestyle and keep doing all of the physical activities you currently enjoy. 

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

One of the wonderful benefits of estrogen is its ability to help protect our hearts and circulatory system. Women with late-onset menopause continue to garner this benefit for a longer period of time than the average woman. Research has found that women with late-onset menopause have a 2% decreased risk of developing life-threatening heart disease and decreased risk of stroke

Two Years Increased Lifespan on Average

If you have been worried that starting menopause late will have a negative impact upon your health and life, you can take comfort in the fact that late-onset menopause is associated with longevity. Life expectancy for women with menopause after age 55 is 2 years longer than those women who start menopause before age 40. 

Why Does Menopause Get Delayed?

The timing of menopause is influenced by several factors, both genetic and environmental.  There is no consensus as to which factors are the most important in determining when you will enter menopause. It is estimated that for about 50% of women genetics plays a crucial role. For these women, the age at which their mothers entered menopause may give them an idea when to expect their transition to start.  

Light physical activity delays menopause onset. In addition, a high body mass index (BMI) is associated with later onset of menopause, as is multiparity, or having multiple births.

Maintaining an active lifestyle, getting good sleep, and enjoying a healthy diet are all helpful with menopausal symptoms, regardless of age of onset. Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can be particularly helpful in relieving the symptoms that accompany the onset of menopause.  

Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) and Late-Onset Menopause

Late-onset menopause is not so different from “regular”-onset menopause in that it is often accompanied by hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and joint pain. For many women these symptoms can be mild, but for some women the symptoms can be significant and prevent you from feeling your best. For these women, MHT may be a good option.

For the vast majority of healthy women, supplementing the body’s natural hormones with menopause hormone therapy is safe, improves quality of life, and can protect against some of the more serious health risks we face as we age. 

Alloy Can Help You Treat Late-Onset Menopause Symptoms

Alloy is here to provide menopause hormone therapy to treat your symptoms related to late-onset menopause. Visit our solutions page to take a free assessment and a menopause-trained doctor will make sure you get the right treatment.

Sources: Ellen B. Gold. "The Timing of the Age at Which Natural Menopause Occurs." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285482/.

Marlies E Ossewaarde, et. al. "Age at menopause, cause-specific mortality, and total life expectancy." Epidemiology, 2005 Jul;16(4):556-62, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15951675/.

Sabrina J.G.C. Welten, et al. "Age at Menopause and Risk of Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Stroke." Stroke, 3 Jun 2021;52:2583–259, https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.030558.

Aruna Surakasula, et al. "A comparative study of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer: Risk factors, presentation, characteristics and management." J Res Pharm Pract. 2014 Jan-Mar; 3(1): 12–18, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078652/#:~:text=A%20woman%20who%20experiences%20menopause,woman's%20risk%20of%20breast%20cancers.

Burcu Ceylan,* and Nebahat Özerdoğan. "Factors affecting age of onset of menopause and determination of quality of life in menopause." Turk J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Mar; 12(1): 43–49, doi: 10.4274/tjod.79836. 

Kathryn A Martin, MD, Robert L Barbieri, MD. "Treatment of menopausal symptoms with hormone therapy." Uptodate, Literature review current through Feb 2022. | This topic last updated: Jun 24, 2020.

Written by:

Alloy Staff

Who is Alloy? Alloy exists to help women age healthfully and feel like their best selves. We approach women’s health with radical honesty. We fuse together powerful medical expertise, science backed treatments, and the support of a community that knows how you feel. We don’t just get you - we are you.

Medically reviewed by:

Sharon D. Malone

Dr. Sharon Malone is among the nation’s leading obstetrician / gynecologists with a focus on the specific health challenges associated with menopause.