At What Age Does Menopause Begin?

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At What Age Does Menopause Begin?
At What Age Does Menopause Begin? (Image: www.studentdream.com/clipart/people.html)

Hot flashes are an easily recognized signal of menopause. You may wonder at what age menopause begins. Research shows there are some variables that might predict the timing of natural menopause -- something that can occur as before age 45, or at age 55 or older.

Time Frame

Natural menopause seems to be evenly distributed among women all over the world, ranging between 40 and 58 years of age. On average, most women can expect to experience an end to their reproductive years at around age 52. Family history is associated with menopause. If you know when your mother experienced menopause, you are likely to follow the same pattern. Genetic factors strongly influence what age a woman will stop ovulating completely. It was found in one large study, from the American Journal of Epidemiology ( Volume 167, Number 11), that Latinas experience menopause earlier than non-Latina whites, especially those not born in the United States. Japanese-Americans reach menopause later than non-Latina whites. No significant difference was found in Native Hawaiians or African-American women than that of Latinas.

Considerations

Race and ethnicity may play some role that influences when natural menopause will occur. Other factors include age of onset of menstruation, number of pregnancies you've experienced, and how old you were at full term pregnancy. Oral contraceptive use, body mass index, ethnic background and smoking are all considerations when tryng to determine when menopause might happen.

Identification

Blood testing for hormone levels can determine whether you are menopausal. Symptoms that may seem common could be the result of underlying health problems, making it important to know for sure if hot flashes, absence of periods (or irregular), or lack of libido are the result of menopause symptoms. Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), thyroid abnormalities, adrenal gland disorders, and diseases of the pituitary glands should be investigated, especially when early symptoms of menopause are present.

Misconceptions

There is no set age at which natural menopause will occur. Heredity, lifestyle and reproductive history all play a role in the timing of menopause in women. If you think you might have reached menopause, see your gynecologist for an exam. Menopause is a time to protect yourself from the inconvenience of hot flashes, and associated health risks, such as osteoporosis and heart disease, making it especially important to know for certain that you have reached that "magical" time of life. Take time to discuss your health needs thoroughly with your health care provider.

Effects

Menopause may take years to achieve. It's important to view menopause as natural. Make a committment to exercise regularly, eat properly, and manage your weight. Involve your physician in your care, and remember that health screening becomes more important than ever. No matter what age menopause happens for you, consider learning all you can about the changes that are happening in your body. Take charge of your health, and remember to share your wisdom with others.

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