What is the number one factor that influences a women’s age of menopause?

This is a question I commonly get in private practice from both young and middle-age women concerned about fertility as well as hormonal changes. Many women want to know if lifestyle choices can influence their age of natural menopause and at what age they should start to prepare for the transition. Women are also interested in learning about natural approaches to help with menopausal symptoms and are concerns about side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)- this will be discussed in an upcoming blog post.

The number one factor influencing menopause is GENETICS! The age your mother experienced menopause is one of the strongest indicators of your menopause age. However, some women may experience natural menopause earlier than their mother. This usually occurs before the age of 45 and it thought to be due to a one-time genetic mutation or inherited issue.

The biggest lifestyle factor that influences age of menopause is SMOKING, which damages the ovaries. Women who smoke more than ten cigarettes per day have a 40% increased risk of earlier menopause [1]. Women who have three or more children experience menopause approximately 1 year later than women without children (nulliparous) [1]. Other factors that can influence age of menopause include high BMI (later age), heart disease (earlier age) and ethnicity [1,2].

Reference

[1]. Ikuku K et al. Prospective Study of Factors Influencing the Onset of Natural Menopause. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 1998. 51(12): 1271-1276.

[2]. Gold EB et al. Factors Associated with Age at Natural Menopause in a Multiethnic Sample of Midlife Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2001. 153 (9): 866-874.

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