Menopause, peri-menopause or post-menopause are stages in a woman’s life when her monthly period stops. This indicates the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
Peri-menopause is the first stage in this process and can start 8 to 10 years before menopause. Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It is diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Post menopause, as the name suggests, is the stage after hitting it. The age when a woman hits the phase is a very important biomarker of not only the loss of fertility but also an increased risk for various mid-life diseases and problems.
It is natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s estrogen levels decline. The average age for a woman to reach this stage is 51 in developed countries.
In India, average age of menopause it was 46-47 years, which is significantly lower than the age in some developed countries.
If a woman touches it before 40 years of age, it is known as premature menopause. Early onset happens before age 45, while premature happens to about 1% of women under age 40.
Causes of premature menopause
Most frequently idiopathic and reasons are not known
Autoimmune disorders where there is immune reactions to own body organs like thyroid and ovaries
Genetic causes which might be hereditary running in families
Infections or inflammatory conditions which can damage the ovarian tissues
It might be induced due to pre-menopausal bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries) or from cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation.
Hot flashes where a person feels a sudden wave of mild or intense body heat with sweating
Vaginal dryness leading to difficulty in having sex and frequent urinary infections
Emotional changes like mood swings, irritability and crying spells
Various neurological problems including loss of memory
Given the health risks associated with early menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is routinely recommended to all women with premature menopause unless there is a compelling reason that it can’t be used. Many of the risks of hormone therapy used after natural menopause are not thought to apply to women who have it prematurely.
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Genetic in families with history of late menopause
High Body Mass Index
Other endocrine problems like thyroid disorder
Estrogen-producing ovarian cancers
Lower risk of osteoporosis, stroke and cardiovascular problems
Later age at menopause and longer reproductive lifespan may result in longer life expectancy
There’s an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer in late-onset menopause. This is due to the lengthened amount of time a woman’s body is producing estrogen. Many of these diseases can be prevented by timely intervention through:
Less fat, high protein high fiber diet rich in antioxidants
Regular exercises and keeping the weight in check
Regular mammograms, pap smears, and gynecological exams are especially important