When Will I Go Through Menopause?

There is no set age at which all women will start to go through menopause. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, but it is considered perfectly normal for a woman to go through it at any time between the ages of 35 and 59. Anything above 35 is not premature. It is not known why some women get signs of menopause in their mid to late thirties or early forties. Some women think that if their periods start early, they will stop early as well. However, research doesn’t show that to be the case. You’re not considered menopausal until you’ve gone an entire year — 12 consecutive months — without having a period.
Probably the biggest factor is the age at which your mother and siblings went through menopause — although this only applies to female relatives who experienced menopause naturally (meaning, not surgically or by inducement, as with a hysterectomy). Other factors that may influence when menopause starts include:
• Smoking. Some studies have shown that women who smoke are likely to start menopause one to two years earlier than those who don’t.
• Eating disorders. Women with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa may reach menopause at an earlier age than they would have otherwise.
Stress, excessive exercise, treatments for breast cancer, certain medical conditions, and autoimmune diseases — basically, anything that causes your ovaries to produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone — may accelerate menopause.
On a positive note, a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that women who experience hot flashes and night sweats when they are just starting menopause may be at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, and death. However, the study also found that if you experience those symptoms later in menopause, you could be at increased cardiovascular risk. The bottom line: You have your own unique biological clock, and it will determine when you start to have symptoms of menopause — it’s usually a quite natural occurrence. Use of supplements, a low glycemic food plan and burst exercise can help lessen some of the side effects of menopause. I know from experience going through menopause at age 44. See you on the other side!

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