Monday, February 14, 2011

How can you estimate your menopause age?

Normal menopause age

The average age of menopause for women is about 49 to 59 years. A few decades back, the average age of menopause for women was about 60 years. Women generally entered primenopausal age in their 50's and attained menopause at 60. However, with the change in lifestyle, more caffeine and alcohol intake has decreased the average age of menopause for women.


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The National Institute on Aging has found that the average age for menopause in US is between 51 years. Menopause is a gradual process and will take many years for women to attain complete menopause.

Perimenopause is the phase before menopause actually takes place, when ovarian hormone production is declining and fluctuating, causing a host of symptoms. Some clinicians maintain that perimenopause can last for as long as 5 to 15 years, and refer to perimenopause as that period which is a 3 to 4 year span just before menopause. Either way, many women experience more symptoms during perimenopause than after menopause. Because this often happens at an age between 35 and 45, many women's symptoms are overlooked or ignored by their healthcare providers.

So, most women stop menstruating around the age of 50. But some women's periods stop in their early forties while others can still be menstruating in their late fifties. These variations are normal. The important thing to understand is that individual differences between women make exact prediction of menopause age very difficult.

You can fine online simple to use, but not so reliable predictors of your menopause age, but I would not expect very reliable results. One of the calculators can be found at CalculatorsLive Website:

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And most important of all to remember is that whatever age you get your menopause - it's definitely not a cause for a midlife crisis. It is definitely not the end of life, joy, and happiness. For some women, it is just a new beginning…

Although for most women menopause age is about 50 there are variations around the world: For instance studies of women in Mexico found the average age of menopause was 44 whereas in the USA it was between 49 and 51.

Early menopause

In Western cultures, a menopause age between 40 and 45 is regarded as early, although this is usually quite normal. There is a lot of natural variation among women and these age cut-offs are a bit arbitrary. For instance the cut-off line between what is defined as normal, early menopause and what is defined as abnormal, premature menopause is not agreed on by everybody.

Calculating the average age of menopause depends on which women researchers ask and on how they do their sums to work out the averages.

Also what is normal in one community may be abnormal in another.

For example: Anthropologist Lynne Leidy Sievert reports that in a study in Puebla, Mexico, 29% of women had experienced natural menopause before age 45 but in Asunci—Én, Paraguay, only 12% were postmenopausal by age 45.

If menstruation ends permanently before the age of 40 this is called premature menopause.

Sometimes there are obvious reasons for premature menopause – such as a known disease or genetic abnormality, but in many cases the cause of premature menopause is unknown. In some cases there may be an immune problem – for instance a woman's body may make antibodies against her own ovaries.

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Late menopause

It is unusual for a woman to still be menstruating naturally when she hits 60, the record for a last period being age 62. The oldest age of menopause in many studies is in the late fifties.

The oldest natural mother is believed to be a British woman who was 59 when she gave birth to a son in 1997. Women have given birth older than this but this has been with the help of fertility treatment.

What affects menopause age?

Genes

The biggest influence on your menopause age is your genes. Genetic makeup explains about 63% of the variation between women in age of menopause. So if you want to know your menopause age ask your mum, your aunts and your grandma.

Tobacco - smokers have an earlier menopause

Apart from genes, the most consistent influence on age of menopause is smoking. The earlier you start smoking and the longer you smoke for, the higher your chances of an early menopause.

Smoking affects your ovaries in two ways:
1. A chemical in the tar of cigarettes is thought to reduce the number of eggs and
2. Smoking interferes with your body's ability to make and process estrogen.


The good news for smokers is that these changes are thought to be reversible when you quit the weed.

Geo-location

Women of colder climates generally get their menopause at a later age than women of tropical climates. But this is also might be due to the similar genetic composition of the women who live at the same countries.  

Number of pregnancies

Many studies have found that women who have no children tend to have an earlier menopause. But there is debate over whether the more children you have, the later your periods will stop. Some studies say more children means later menopause, but other studies contradict this.

A man about the house

Another finding from research in different cultures is that when there's a man about the house menopause seems to come later.

There's a nice theory that this may in some way be related to what are called "primer pheromones". These pheromones are chemicals which somehow create an effect on the bodies of others who are close to you. Researchers Sievert, Waddle and Canali have suggested that just as occurs in male rats, men may produce pheromones that can influence the menstrual cycle of their female partners and ultimately the timing of their menopause.

Alcohol

It's surprising that the effect of alcohol intake on menopause age has not been studied anything like as extensively as tobacco. The studies that have been done are small but suggest that alcohol in moderation (less than 7 drinks a week) may delay onset of menopause. Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with earlier menopause.

Contraceptive use

There is little evidence that use of the pill or other hormonal types of birth control has any effect on the age of menopause. However, some researchers report that taking birth control pills, which prevent ovulation, may delay menopause. Birth control pills contain hormones that can block the process of oocyte maturation and ovulation. This will prevent decrease in the number of oocytes in the ovaries.

Nutrition, poverty and education

Nutrition – especially childhood nutrition is thought to have some influence on early menopause but the jury is still out on the details. But it does seem that for poor nutrition as a child to cause early or premature menopause, it has to be at a quite severe, starvation level.

At the other end of the spectrum, being obese in adolescence is also associated with an earlier menopause. Both poverty and lower educational levels are also thought to be linked with early menopause age, but explanations for how and why are still unclear.

What you can't change isn't worth worrying about

When all's said and done, apart from stopping smoking, age of menopause is not something you can do anything about.

It will happen to you when it happens. If it happens early it's unlikely that you will be able to say why and the same if you have a late menopause – it's also just one of those things.

Nobody knows why it happens when it happens so there's little point in fretting about it.


Sources and Additional Information:


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