What matters, and what doesn’t, when trying to predict when you’ll reach menopause.
It’s a question many women wonder about, especially if you’re thinking about planning a family and your 20s are but a distant memory.
How many more years of fertility might you have, and how much longer will it be before you start experiencing “the change?”
The Top Factor
There are a number of factors that affects a woman’s age at menopause, but the most important is the age her mother experienced menopause.
“Menopause is strongly genetically linked, so you’re very likely to fall within a few years either way of the age your mother was at menopause.
This isn’t always true, of course. Some women reach menopause at an unusually early age – before 45 – with no known cause, which could be the result of an inherited issue or a one-time genetic mutation.
So if your mother reached menopause at 40, but her sisters and your grandmother were all at the average age of 50, it’s unclear whether you’ll follow her path or theirs.
But if most of the women in your family, your mother included, reach menopause early, late, or somewhere in the middle, you can eye your calendar with some degree of confidence.
Menopause Age: 4 More Influences
Your mother’s age at menopause is a key factor, but not the only one. Here are four others to consider:
Smoking. No other lifestyle factor does more damage to your ovaries than smoking. So if you smoke and your mother didn’t, you’ll probably reach menopause earlier than she did. If she smoked and you don’t, you probably reach menopause later than she did.
Chemotherapy. Most forms of chemotherapy used on younger women are at least mildly toxic to the ovaries. Many women go through temporary menopause while undergoing chemotherapy; if cycles do return (they don’t always), you can still expect to reach regular menopause a couple of years earlier than you otherwise would have.
Ovarian surgery. “The more you operate on the ovaries, the more healthy tissue gets damaged,” says Marcelle Cedars, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. So if you’ve had diagnostic surgery for endometriosis, for example, Cedars recommends using medical options (such as hormonal suppression) to treat the condition in order to avoid repetitive surgeries.
Ethnicity. “Certain ethnic groups may have menopause at slightly different ages,” says Santoro. “Hispanic and African-American women reach menopause a little earlier, and Chinese and Japanese women a little later, than the average Caucasian woman, who reaches menopause at about age 51.5.” Those are averages; every woman is different.
However, Menopause generally begin when estrogen levels start to drop with age. The best alternative way to increase estrogen levels without side effects, is to take a natural supplement like the Manna Menopause Support with plant based estrogens called phyto-estrogens.