Objective Few Latin American studies have described menopausal symptoms in detail by means of a standardized assessment tool. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and severity of menopausal symptoms and their impact over quality of life among mid-aged Latin American women. Method In this cross-sectional study, 8373 otherwise healthy women aged 40-59 years from 12 Latin American countries were asked to fill out the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) and a questionnaire containing personal sociodemographic data. Menopause status (pre-, peri- and postmenopausal) was defined according to the criteria of the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop. Results Of all the studied women, 90.9% had at least one menopausal symptom (complaint) that they rated. Muscle and joint discomfort, physical and mental exhaustion and depressive mood were highly prevalent and rated as severe-very severe (scores of 3 and 4), at a higher rate than vasomotor symptoms (15.6%, 13.8% and 13.7% vs. 9.6%, respectively). Of premenopausal women (40-44 years), 77.0% reported at least one rated complaint, with 12.9% displaying MRS scores defined as severe (>16). The latter rate increased to 26.4% in perimenopausal, 31.6% in early postmenopausal and 29.9% among late postmenopausal women. As measured with the MRS, the presence of hot flushes increased the risk of impairment of overall quality of life in both premenopausal (odds ratio 12.67; 95% confidence interval 9.53=16.83) and peri/postmenopausal women (odds ratio 9.37; 95% confidence interval 7.85=11.19). Conclusion In this large, mid-aged, female Latin American series, muscle/joint discomfort and psychological symptoms were the most prevalent and severely rated menopausal symptoms. The symptoms appear early in the premenopause, significantly impair quality of life and persist 5 years beyond the menopause. © 2012 International Menopause Society.