Menopause is the most common time in a female’s life when she experiences having no more eggs. Menopause occurs naturally as part of the aging process, usually between 45-55 or 50-60. However, menopause can also occur by other means, such as surgery for certain types of cancer or other medical conditions.
The symptoms associated with menopause are hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other physical changes that include weight gain, joint pain, and thinning hair. While the symptoms are natural occurring side effects of an aging body that does not have eggs to support the body, women’s healthcare physicians menopause specialists can treat these symptoms and still enjoy life.
While menopause comes due to age, some factors may also influence the onset of your menopause. We look at some of them in this article.
- Genetic Factors
Unfortunately, sometimes menopause is due to the genes you inherit from your parents. This condition is known as early-onset menopause or premature ovarian failure (POF). A family history of POF makes it more likely that you may experience it too. So if your mother or sister experienced menopause at a young age, then there is a chance that this condition could happen to you as well. POF can also occur due to other medical conditions like thyroid disorders and autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus.
- Lifestyle Factors
Your lifestyle may also be a contributing factor towards the onset of menopause. Smoking, for example, can add to your risk. Research has proven that smoking causes oxidative DNA damage, resulting in cellular mutations and cancer.
The other lifestyle factor is obesity. Statistics show that nearly 1/3rd adults worldwide are obese or overweight, putting them at a greater risk of developing cancer. Obesity can also raise the level of estrogen in your body, contributing to symptoms that mimic menopause.
- Medical History
It would be best if you always inform your doctor about your medical history. If you have a family or personal account of certain conditions, this may also influence the onset of menopause.
Menopause can sometimes result due to cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, which commonly target the ovaries. Up to 20% of women who have chemotherapy may experience menopause before the age of 40.
If you have a family history of autoimmune diseases, then the chances are that you may develop the condition as well. These disorders attack healthy cells in your body but often ignore cancerous cells. This puts women who have autoimmune diseases at a greater risk of developing ovarian failure.
While age is the most significant risk factor for menopause, other factors may contribute to an earlier onset. Different ethnic groups experience menopause at different ages. It has been documented that African-American women experience menopause at an average age of 51, Caucasian women at 50, and Hispanic women around 51.5.
This age difference is attributed to how non-Hispanic women tend to get pregnant later and are more likely to smoke than Hispanic and African-American women. African-Americans, on average, get pregnant earlier (at around age 21), while Hispanic women usually become mothers closer to 26 years of age.
In summary, most women develop menopause due to age. However, some factors may also influence the stage at which you reach menopause. They include genes, lifestyle factors, and ethnicity.