Menopause is defined as the time when women stops having menstruation. This condition is not considered to be a disease but is a natural result of aging.
At this stage, the female no longer have periods or get pregnant. The ovaries shut down and no longer releases eggs or the female hormone estrogen and progesterone.
When women ask how long does it lasts, they are actually referring to perimenopause (also called premenopause), the time before menopause sets in.
It can last from 2 years up to 10 years and during this time, women experience pre-menopause symptoms and irregular periods.
The average age of menopause is around 51. Women can experience perimenopause starting from mid-thirties to early fifties although mid-forties are more common. How early a women experience menopause symptoms depends on health, family history, body type and lifestyle.
Typically, women can expect to experience perimenopause similar in age to when their sister or mother experience it. Female who smoke can expect to have earlier menopause.
In getting the definitive to the question "How long does it last?" the answer would have to be between 2 and 10 years. Moreover, experiencing menopause at an earlier age does not mean they will stop having menstruation ealier.
There are far too many unknown variables to be able to pin-point the exact length of time of menopause.
Revised:January 9, 2010