Chronic stress can cause mental health problems, cardiovascular problems, and for women, it is connected with early menopause.
We all experience stress, but managing it could be even more important than you once thought.
But before you let the idea of early menopause stress you out more, let’s review the facts. Read below for everything you need to know about the connection between stress and early menopause.
What is Considered Early Menopause?
Women typically experience menopause after the age of 50. If a woman experiences menopause between the ages of 40 and 45 it is considered early menopause. And if a woman experiences menopause before the age of 40 it is often called premature menopause.
Early or premature menopause occurs when the ovaries are no longer making certain hormones. Therefore, menstrual periods stop at a younger age than expected.
The reason for early or premature menopause varies, but it is often the result of surgery, like a hysterectomy in which the uterus and/or ovaries are removed. It can also happen as a result of genetics, medicines, or other health conditions.
If you have a family history of early menopause you may be at a higher risk of early menopause. Smoking is also known to increase the risk of premature and early menopause. You can talk to your doctor to find out more.
What Are The Signs of Early Menopause?
Symptoms of early menopause are typically the same as for typical menopause but they happen at a younger age.
Early signs of menopause usually include irregular or missed periods, or heavier or lighter periods than is typical for you. Other symptoms of early menopause include hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, changes in mood, vaginal dryness, and lack of sex drive.
You may also want to consult a medical professional if you are aware of a family history of early menopause or you are struggling to get pregnant after the age of 40. These might be early warning signs of menopause.
How Is Early Menopause Diagnosed?
A woman has gone through menopause when she has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. This is the easiest way for a doctor to diagnose that menopause has already happened. However, there are earlier ways of detection as well.
A doctor will typically ask about symptoms like the ones mentioned above. He or she may also do a blood test to rule out other conditions and measure hormone levels in the body.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is the hormone that allows ovaries to produce estrogen which can indicate the overall health of your ovaries. If the FSH levels are high it means that your ovaries have slowed their production of estrogen.
Youro doctor may also choose to do a physical examination to rule out any other conditions before diagnosing premature or early menopause.
Can Stress Bring On Early Menopause?
As you may already know, stress can reak havoc on the human body and is known to interrupt the menstrual cycle even in young, healthy women.
Both physical stress and psychological stress can contribute to an irregular menstrual cycle. Rapid weight loss or excessive exercise are examples or physical bodily stress that affect menstrual periods.
Psychological stress can come from several factors including work, health, or family-related stress. And it is known to impact the irregularity of menstrual periods.
Research connecting stress and menstrual periods is well established, but only recently have studies been able to explore the connection between stress and early menopause.
More specifically, research has shown a relationship between socioeconomic status and early menopause. Women living with difficult economic and social situations were more likely to go through menopause before the age of 45.
However, it is very difficult to prove definitively that stress alone can be the cause of premature menopause. It is more likely that stress is a factor among many others that can lead to premature or early menopause.
So while stress may not be the only risk factor for early menopause, when it is combined with poor nutrition, heavy drinking, or smoking, the risk of early menopause is much higher.
Stress and the Emotional Response to Menopause
Going through menopause at any age can be emotional. Many women feel sad, scared, or anxious at the first signs on menopause. This reaction may be heightened for those women that experience early menopause.
Losing one’s fertility at a younger age may impact self-confidence and self-image. It may interrupt family planning or challenge sexual relationships.
Stress can make the emotional challenge of early menopause even more difficult. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed by early menopause.
There may not be a way to eliminate all the stress in your life, but there are steps you can take to reduce overall stress and promote sexual and reproductive wellness.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising can help you manage stress along with getting plenty of sleep.
Having a strong social support system can also help manage the symptoms of stress. Taking time to enjoy social events and engage in hobbies is important for emotional and psychological health because it can combat some of the negative effects of stress.
If you are worried about stress or your emotional health you should reach out to your doctor or another medical professional for help.
Stress and Early Menopause – Answered
For women between the ages of 40 and 45 early menopause can be a difficult situation to manage physically and emotionally. There are a number of things that can increase the liklihood of early menopause.
The best thing you can do to maintain sexual and reproductive wellness is to take care of your body and your emotional wellbeing. The truth is that engaging in negative health behaviors like smoking or excessive drinking can contribute to early menopause.
It is also important to take care of your mental and emotional health.
So, to answer the question directly, can stress bring on early menopause, the answer is yes. However, stress is usually one of several factors and does not act alone in causing early menopause.
If you want to read more about women’s health and specifically hormone health, check out some of our other blogs.