Is There any Fixed Age for Occurrence of Menopause?
This is a common question most people often ask, especially those thinking about family planning at an early age. It can be difficult at time to tell the exact number of fertility years you have, and how longer you will stay before you start noticing changes. Although menopause doesn’t occur at a particular age, there are several factors that determine when it will happen including age and genes. Although most women reach menopause at the age of 45, some experiences these changes at an earlier or later stages due to inherited issues or genetic mutation.
The age at which your mother reached menopause is the main factor that determines when the change will occur. In reference to Nanette Santoro, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine, there is a strong connection between menopause and genes. Santoro, who is also a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says that this isn’t only the cause as women can reach menopause at an earlier of later stage due to random events passed on from the parents.
In reference to Lila Schmidt, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist in San Diego, reaching menopause at an early age of 35 years should raise an alarm. It is still unknown why some women develop menopause signs in their mid to late thirties or early forties. If you stop menstruating before you reach 40 years, it is worth going for a test to ensure if the missed periods result from menopause or any other cause. It is also worth noting that changes in your cycle could be gradual and don’t start in one night, according to Dr. Schmidt.
Early Menopause Causes
In reference to Dr. Schmidt, one of the reasons that causes early menopause is radiation to the pelvis. This usually alters your ovaries and affects production of estrogen. Menopause can also occur at an earlier age if you have had several pregnancies and depending on your preferred type of birth control. However, Schmidt notes that research has not clearly shown how these factors can determine when you reach menopause but the number of pregnancies can somehow delay the changes. In reference to studies, you can start menopause one or two years earlier if you smoke than nonsmokers. You are also more likely to reach menopause earlier if you have eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Other factors that lead to earlier menopause include stress, excessive training, breast cancer treatment medications, and certain medical conditions.
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Menopause Onset and Health Risks
Depending on the age it starts, menopause can put you at an increased risk of developing other diseases. In reference to the National Institutes of Health, you are at an increased risk of breast cancer if you start your periods at an early age (below 12 years) and go through menopause late after 55 years. You can protect yourself by going for regular screening of breast cancer. Luckily, a recent study at Northwestern University in Chicago and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that women who experience menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats are less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. However, you could be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease if you experience these symptoms later in menopause.
Finding Out If You Have Early Menopause
The best way to find out if you have early menopause is to contact a medical professional if your periods stops or changes before the age of 40. This will help in identifying whether it is a treatable health condition or if it is due to pregnancy. Generally, menopause is confirmed if you miss your monthly periods for 12 consecutive months. To help find out if you have reached menopause, your doctors may ask for symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and sleep disorder. However, these symptoms may not be sufficient to confirm that you have reached menopause. You may be requested to undergo blood tests to measure estrogen and other hormones. Since hormonal changes happens every day, you may be subjected to more than one test to ascertain if it is menopause.
It can be difficult to exactly find out when you will reach menopause. Menopausal symptoms may start to appear at an early age of 40 or in mid 50s. While several factors determine the age you attain menopause, genes inherited from your parent (mother) seem to play an important role. Contact your doctor if you miss your periods before the age of 40 to check whether it could be due pregnancy or underlying medical condition. You are deemed to have attained menopause if you miss monthly periods for 12 consecutive months. Menopausal symptoms may include hot flashes, night sweats, and vagina dryness among others. Contact you healthcare provider if you experience severe menopausal symptoms.