Home > The Menopausal Body > Conditions Associated with Menopause

Conditions Associated with Menopause

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Menopause Periods Hot Flushes Medical

While the average woman in a westernised country can expect to reach menopause around the age of fifty-one, some women will cease having their periods and will experience menopause at an earlier age. This kind of an early menopause is typically related to one of a range of conditions that have been linked to menopause. Although you shouldn't panic if you do currently have any of these conditions, it's important to be aware of the link and speak to your doctor about your own risks for an early menopause.

Natural menopause is not something to dread even though it comes with certain challenges, as most bodily changes do! Experiencing these challenges at an earlier age, however, can predispose you to certain health problems. Handling the menopausal symptoms such as night sweats, irregular periods and hot flushes can be equally difficult.

Conditions Commonly Associated With Menopause

One of the most direct causes of an early menopause is surgery involving the removal of a woman's reproductive organs. When a woman's ovaries are removed – due to a reproductive health condition – she will no longer have the same production of oestrogen and progesterone. While other parts of the body do produce oestrogen, they do so in very small amounts. This means that when a woman undergoes this type of surgery, she can expect a rapid menopause afterwards, due to the sharp decline in oestrogen and the halting of her menstrual cycle and periods. In this instance, a woman will also experience more pronounced, intense menopausal symptoms.

While most women experience a gradual decrease in oestrogen, the rapid decrease from surgery can cause significant menopausal symptoms as a woman's periods stop and she feels the significant effects of an oestrogen decrease in her body.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments for Cancer

Chemotherapy and medical radiation treatments can damage a woman's ovaries. In turn, a woman may begin to experience menopausal symptoms, which can ultimately lead to a complete cessation of her periods – menopause. Other women may experience menopausal symptoms but these eventually end and ovarian function is regained.

Other Conditions Thought to Trigger Menopause

There are many other conditions that are thought to influence the onset of menopause, although no firm link has been conclusively established just yet. There is some research that suggests women who have histories of heart disease or depression may be more likely to experience menopause at an earlier age. Women who have never given birth are also thought to be more likely to reach menopause at a younger age than women who have given birth. In addition, there are surgeries involving the pelvis that are linked to menopause and research suggests that a woman's exposure to certain toxic chemicals could influence the onset of menopause as well.

Lifestyle Habits

While lifestyle habits aren't exactly a medical 'condition' as such, they are associated with an earlier menopause. How you live your life can impact the health of your ovaries. Lifestyle habits such as smoking can affect how your ovaries function. Studies vary but they suggest that regular smokers can begin menopause a year or two earlier than non-smoking women.

Taking Care of Your Health

With the exception of surgical menopause, there is no way to accurately predict exactly when a woman will stop having her periods and will thus experience menopause. If you are a young woman and do suffer from any of the conditions mentioned, it does not mean you will automatically be menopausal earlier than your peers. It is simply to say that you are more likely to experience it sooner, due to the presence of the condition. Your lifestyle habits and many other factors such as your genes will also influence your age at menopause when your periods stop.

It can be frustrating and distressing to experience an earlier menopause, particularly if you were planning for a family. Others may struggle as they experience hot flushes and night sweats, but find that their peers are not supportive because they aren't experiencing menopause yet.

The main concerns regarding an earlier menopause relate to the loss of oestrogen, which has protective effects on numerous body systems such as bone metabolism. Your doctor is the best person to speak with regarding your concerns. In the meantime, you can take measures such as quitting smoking and partaking in a healthy lifestyle, which can ensure that if you do reach an earlier menopause, you will at least feel confident that you made the best choices possible.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: