‘What age will I reach menopause?’ is a question on the minds of many women. Menopause is the stage of womanhood that marks the end of fertility; it is defined as occurring when your period has stopped for over a year. The average age that women reach menopause is 51. However, for some women it can even occur before the age of 40 or up until their 60s.
Will there be any signs that ‘announce’ the onset of menopause?
Pre-menopause/perimenopause is the stage a woman goes through several years before menopause. The most common sign of pre-menopause is menstrual irregularity. Some women experience menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness and mood swings. This phase may last between two to eight years.
There’s no way to know for sure when the change will start, but there are a number of factors that influence the age you may reach menopause.
Factors That Influence Menopause Age:
- The Age Your Mother Reached Menopause: The most important factor is the age at which your mother’s menopause began. Menopause is strongly linked to genetics, with most women reaching menopause around the same age as their mother did.
- Ethnicity: It is not known why, but American studies have shown that African American and Hispanic descent women tend to reach menopause earlier than Caucasian women, while Asian women, particularly Japanese and Chinese, tend to reach menopause at a later age.
- Chemotherapy: depending on the type and location of cancer, some chemotherapy treatments induce temporary menopause in women. If your cycles do return, you may reach menopause a few years before you otherwise might have. If you are starting or having chemotherapy treatment, we recommend talking to your doctor about temporary menopause.
- Ovarian surgery: surgery to treat ovarian complications such as endometriosis can affect your menopause age. Removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) will result in immediate ‘surgical menopause’. We again recommend talking to your doctor if you have any concerns about ovarian surgery.
- Smoking: on top of the number of diseases and complications that smoking causes, it can also hasten the age at which your menopause will begin. It is the only factor that you can control. Smoking is thought to have an anti-estrogen effect on the female body. If you smoke but your mother did not, you will likely reach menopause earlier than she did. Former smokers have only a slightly earlier age at natural menopause than those who never smoked, and increased time since quitting reduces the difference.
Factors That Do Not Influence Menopause Age:
- Age of First Period: The age at which you have your first period does not influence the age of menopause.
- Pregnancy and breast feeding: Your choice to have children and whether to breastfeed them has no impact on the typical age women reach menopause.
- Use of hormonal birth control: Using hormonal birth control methods has not been shown to either delay nor hasten menopause age
Other than to not smoke, there is no definitive way to change the age at which women reach menopause. If you’re feeling anxious about menopause, it may be comforting to hear that many women experience this time as one of liberation and self-actualization. Knowing the facts about this natural part of every woman’s life is important, and helps make menopause sound less worrying. No matter which age you reach menopause, with the right management and attitude, it needn’t be complicated.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.