I’ve gained a reputation as a menopause expert among my friends, and I get this question more than any other. It makes sense. When you’re in the throes of a hot flash or inexplicable crying jag, who cares why this is happening—when’s it going to end? Unfortunately, as with many things pertaining to women’s bodies (hi, pregnancy), the length and symptoms of menopause vary a lot. Some aspects, such as age of onset, can even be hereditary.