Menopause - when should you worry?

The average age of menopause in an Indian woman is at 45 years, plus or minus 5 years. That might still be quite a long way away for you! So why should you worry about it today?

Here’s everything you need to know:

First of all, what is menopause?

Officially, menopause begins when a woman has not had periods for one year continuously. Did you know that a woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have, stored in her ovaries?

Each month, an egg is released from the ovaries, and the uterus grows a new lining for the egg, in case it gets fertilized. If fertilization doesn’t happen, the egg and the lining are expelled as “menstrual blood” - or periods. (Want to know more about how periods work? You can read in detail about this here).

When the ovaries stop releasing eggs, periods stop - this is known as menopause.

So if I don’t have periods, it’s menopause? But I’m so young!

Your periods may not occur for other reasons, too. Periods can stop if you’re

  • Pregnant
  • Stressed
  • Suffer from an illness
  • Try a new crash diet or strenuous exercise
  • Start a new medication or contraceptive device

If your periods have not occurred in 3 months continuously, you should consult a doctor. Low estrogen levels associated with skipped periods could lead to bone loss, and affect your bone density. Early treatment is necessary to prevent permanent bone damage.

Are there any other symptoms I should watch out for?

Yes! While menopause is defined as the stopping of periods, there are multiple other signs that can occur in the period before this happens, a stage known as perimenopause, when the body is preparing to stop ovulating:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sensitive breasts
  • Worse than usual symptoms of PMS
  • Fatigue
  • Mental fog
  • Low sex drive
  • Dryness of vagina during sex
  • Irregular periods or changes in cycle
  • Trouble sleeping

While most women arrive at menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, perimenopause can start as much as a decade beforehand. So if you’re in your mid-30s and your PMS symptoms are worsening, this article may help you understand some of what you’re going through.

What can cause menopause (or perimenopause) to arrive earlier?

1. High-stress lifestyle: According to this study, stress can reduce your average menopause age significantly, by as much as one year, and up to 4 years.

2. Carb-rich diet: Eating a lot of simple refined carbs, such as rice or pasta is one of the leading contributors of early menopause, according to this study. On the other hand, fatty fish is one of the best foods for delaying menopause (by up to 3.3 years if consumed regularly) as well as fresh legumes such as chickpeas and mung beans.

3. The Party life: Cigarette smoking can hasten menopause arrival by up to one year, and regular alcohol consumption has a similar effect too. So keep drinking moderate. What’s moderate? That’s no more than 7 drinks per week and no more than 3 drinks on any given occasion. What’s a drink? It’s one glass of wine, one can of beer or one shot of hard drinks.

4. Too much exercise: Sure, working out is good for you, but too much of it can harm you as well. Estrogen is stored in fat tissue. Being underweight can result in loss of estrogen and can cause menopause at a lower age.

5. Cycle length: According to research, if your cycle length is shorter than 26 days each month, you may reach menopause up to 1.4 years sooner than women who have a 26-32 day cycle. This is largely determined by heredity, however, a healthy lifestyle can have an impact on optimizing cycle length.

6. Your mom’s genes: The age at which your mom started menopause, the age at which your mom attained puberty (which in turn influences the age at which you attained puberty) all affect your menopausal age.

7. Child-free lifestyle: Not having a child can cause menopause to arrive sooner, while having more than one child can delay menopause.

8. Some other factors: Having ovaries removed surgically, prolonged exposure to lead, usage of oral contraceptives have also been connected with early menopause.

What are the benefits of delaying menopause?

A later menopause is linked to reduced risk of osteoporosis (fragile bones) and cardiac disease. Later menopause generally results in a longer lifespan.

However, the risks of certain cancers (endometrial, ovarian, breast cancers) may be slightly increased.

All things considered, science and medical professionals today believe that a delayed menopause is overall beneficial to women’s health.

What can I do to delay menopause?

Live a healthy lifestyle: eat the right foods, exercise the right amount, reduce stress. This can be a confusing and often, quite difficult thing to actually do. That’s where Femcy comes in: with the Femcy app, you can get access to personalized diet plans, cycle-based fitness and relaxation guidance, and expert advice all just one tap away on your phone.

Ready to try the app? Click here to download now!

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Nandhini heads marketing for FemCy. She is a health science enthusiast and believes that knowledge is key to making better selfcare decisions.


Image from Stories by Freepik

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