Did You Know? Your Weight Could Affect The Age You Begin Menopause

smiling middle-aged woman doing arms stretching

Menopause. Perimenopause. Midlife Hormone Dance.

Whatever you want to call it, it seems there are more and more studies being conducted on menopause. And that’s a good thing because the more aware we are the better off we are. Knowledge is power.

A recent study conducted by the University of Queensland found that being over- or underweight could affect your perimenopause age. In other words, the age you begin the lead up to menopause.

The Study

The School of Public Health’s researchers were Professor Gita Mishra and PhD candidate Dongshan Zhu. They found underweight women were at higher risk of early menopause. In addition, overweight and obese women were more likely to experience late menopause.

“We looked at data from more than 24,000 women and found the average age of menopause was about 51 years,” Mr Zhu said.

“Underweight women had more than double the risk of experiencing early menopause compared to those with normal BMI. Overweight and obese women had more than 50 percent higher risk of experiencing late menopause,” he said.

“These associations were stronger for women who were underweight or obese at least five years prior to the onset of menopause,” he added.

Mr Zhu said early menopause was associated with a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. While late menopause increased the risk of breast and endometrial cancers.

“The link between obesity and late onset of menopause could be explained by a number of factors, including hormone levels and genetics, but more specific research is needed.”

For a link to the study click here

The research involved international collaborators and is published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

 

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.