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Ways To Predict And Delay Menopause. How Your Health Can Benefit

Odds that you will reach menopause about the same time your mother did may be as high as 85%.1 The reason why hasn't been exactly pinpointed but hormones and genes are major factors. There's also strong evidence that later menopause, after age 55, is linked to longevity.

Multiple studies have cited significant correlations among later menopause, specific genes, reproductive periods spanning over 30 years and lifespans exceeding 90 and 100 years.  

The average age of menopause (AOM) in the US is 51. Menopause before age 40 is defined as premature and onset between 41-44 is considered early menopause.

You can't change your genes but foresight into your AOM may help plan pregnancy, inspire preventative medicine and reduce health risks associated with menopause. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)2 and anti-müllerian hormone (AMH)3 can provide intel. They contribute to menopause onset and their levels can help predict age of menopause. Since they are sensitive to environmental factors, checking them in advance of menopause can do more than help you plan, it can help you change direction.

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Later menopause, genetics tied to longevity

An analysis of several large studies found women who had later onset of menopause also had genes associated with slower aging and longer lifespans. Among them were genes noted to bolster DNA repair and other immune functions.4

Another study of 12,134 women reported that for each year that menopause was been delayed, their mortality decreased by 2%.5 Overall, life expectancy in participants with menopause after age 55 extended 2 years past those with premature menopause.5

The study noted that longer reproductive years correlated to a 5% higher risks of death from uterine or ovarian cancer but ischemic heart disease was 2% lower in women with later menopause.5 The participants had already reached menopause when they entered the study and were followed for 17 years

It's already known that reduced estrogen in postmenopausal women correlates with cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and decreased immune strength. The heart protective powers of estrogen is cited as a key reason why women live longer than men.


Multiple studies have cited significant correlations among later menopause, specific genes, reproductive periods spanning over 30 years and lifespans exceeding 90 and 100 years.  


Premature, early and natural menopause

Natural menopause occurs when the ovaries either run out of eggs or remaining eggs are poor quality. Females are born with 1 to 3 million eggs but by puberty only 300,000-400,000 are left. Aging also diminishes ovarian estrogen production capability.

When a woman hasn't menstruated for 12 consecutive months, she's considered menopausal. But exceptions exist. Illness, stress and sudden weight changes can disrupt the menstrual cycle so estrogen testing can serve as further confirmation. Estrogen below 30 pg/mL indicates menopause. Progesterone and testosterone are usually also imbalanced.

Hormone testing provide actionable data for better health

For an even closer look, FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) tests provide insight into egg quantity. They can also help diagnose ovarian and pituitary gland dysfunction, which could be the underlying cause of hormonal imbalance and unpredictable cycles rather than menopause.  

  • FSH above 30 IU/L is consistent with menopause.
  • Permimenopause is confirmed when FSH is 0.6-8.0 IU/L in the luteal phase (after ovulation when fertilization is possible) and FSH during the follicular stage (egg growth and maturation phase) is 2.4-9.3 IU/L.
  • LH levels in premenopausal-luteal phase ranges from 0.5-12.8 IU/L and 1.6-9.3 IU/L during follicular stage.
  • Postmenopausal LH is 15.0-64.0 IU/L.

FSH vs LH

  • FSH and LH regulate a woman's menstrual cycle.
  • Both are secreted by the pituitary gland at the direction of the hypothalamus.
  • FSH stimulates the growth of eggs and the production of estrogen by the ovaries.
  • LH triggers the ovaries to release eggs.

What Is AMH?

AMH is a glycoprotein hormone secreted by sertoli cells. Its most critical role occurs during the first eight weeks of pregnancy when it supports fetus growth. AMH tests provide insight into fertility and other health conditions. Some studies argue that AMH is a better predictor of menopause than mother's AOM.3

Menopause symptoms during perimenopause

Cycle irregularity occurs in 14% of women from menarche to menopause, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). It's heightened during perimenopause, the 10 year span before menopause. Ovarian function slows. FSH and LH levels destabilize, resulting in estrogen imbalance and unpredictable menstrual cycles.

According to Ourbodiesourselves.org, 25% of women experience heavy blood flow (hypermenorrhea) during perimenopause. Periods may also stop for a few months and then return in full force. Cycles can shorten—seeming to start right after one has ended. 

Hormonal imbalance can deteriorate cognitive function displayed as brain fog, difficulty concentration and memory difficulty. Other symptoms include hot flashes, depression and migraines.

Some women seek medical intervention through hormone replacement therapy. Bioidentical hormones—hormones that are structurally and molecularly identical to hormones made by the body are a popular option, especially when they are custom made in dosages and delivery forms that match each woman's specific needs.

Study: Having sex delays menopause

A study that pulled data on 2936 female participants aged between 42-52 from the 11 waves of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) observed that women who reported having sex weekly during the study, were 28% less likely to experience menopause than those who had sex less than monthly.6 Researchers hypothesized that sex, intercourse or other sexual engagement, signals the body that pregnancy is possible so ovulation is prolonged.

Cigarettes accelerate menopause

Analysis of data from close to 20 studies found that smoking cigarettes caused early menopause and found that the duration and intensity of smoking also sped up menopause.7

Overall, the study reported that women who currently smoked compared to those who never smoked were twice as likely to reach menopause at 45-49 years of age, earlier than the average age, 51. Data was pooled from 17 observational studies from 7 countries and included 207,231 and 27,580 postmenopausal women.

Young woman breaking cigarette in half, disgusted with smoking

 

For more information about hormone health, read How To Clear Up Acne And Balance Your Hormones.


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References

1. European Society For Human Reproduction And Embryology. "Age Of Menopause Dictated Largely By Genes." ScienceDaily, 3 September 2001. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010903092447.htm

2. Steiner AZ, et al. Mother's menopausal age is associated with her daughter's early follicular phase urinary follicle-stimulating hormone level. Menopause. 2008;15(5):940-944. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31816429e5 Available at: https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2008/15050/Mother_s_menopausal_age_is_associated_with_her.22.aspx

3 Dólleman M, et al. Anti-Mullerian hormone is a more accurate predictor of individual time to menopause than mother's age at menopause. Hum Reprod. 2014 Mar;29(3):584-91. doi: 10.1093/humrep/det446. Epub 2014 Jan 15. PMID: 24435779. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/29/3/584/706317

4. Bae H, et al. Long Life Family Study. Genetic associations with age of menopause in familial longevity. Menopause. 2019 Oct;26(10):1204-1212. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001367. PMID: 31188284; PMCID: PMC7008937. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7008937/

5. Ossewaarde, M., E. et al. Age at Menopause, Cause-Specific Mortality and Total Life Expectancy, Epidemiology: July 2005 - Volume 16 - Issue 4 - p 556-562 doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000165392.35273.d4 Available at: https://journals.lww.com/epidem/Fulltext/2005/07000/Age_at_Menopause,_Cause_Specific_Mortality_and.20.aspx

6. M Arnot, R Mace. Sexual frequency is associated with age of natural menopause: results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation R. Soc. open sci.7191020. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191020

7. Zhu D. et al. Relationships between intensity, duration, cumulative dose, and timing of smoking with age at menopause: A pooled analysis of individual data from 17 observational studies. PLoS Med. 2018;15(11):e1002704. Published 2018 Nov 27. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002704 Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30481189/

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