Menopause is actually three distinct phases: perimenopause, menopause and post menopausal. In the United States, the average age of menopause is 52 years old.
There is wide age range for menopause, it can occur naturally between 40 and 60 years old. If menopause happens earlier than 40 years old, this is considered premature menopause.
If menopause happens earlier than 45 years old, this is considered early menopause. Early menopause can occur due to genetic disorders, illness, medical treatment or surgery.
Women who have early menopause due to surgery usually have more serious symptoms such as hot flashes due to the sudden hormone imbalance.
Due to the aging baby boomer generation, about 6,000 women are going into menopause very day, this makes 2,000,000 women each year. Since baby boomers are the largest generation in history, this is unprecedented. This number will decrease dramatically for the next few generations.
Not all women get menopause symptoms
In women that do report symptoms, hot flashes are the most common, with 90% of women with symptoms reporting hot flashes.
Hot flashes are usually the worst at the beginning of perimenopause, this may be due to the body adjusting to the hormone imbalance that is taking place.
Women with more education and higher incomes report better overall health and fewer symptoms.
Employed women fair better than unemployed women, they also report better overall health and fewer symptoms.
Only 10% of women report depression, anxiety or other negative emotions about menopause.
Depression and anxiety are reported more in the US than in other countries.
In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative stopped a study into to the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in menopausal women. This study was stopped before its conclusion because it revealed serious health risks involved in HRT use, these risks included heart disease, breast cancer and blood clots. Prior to this study, HRT was the treatment of choice for menopause, but after this study, HRT use dropped almost overnight.
Menopause might not be as bad as you expect, over 80% of women say that menopause didn’t impact their quality of life at all.
Menopause is unique for each woman, many factors such as diet, exercise, stress levels, genetics and outlook can all influence menopause.
Women who smoke go into menopause earlier than non-smokers.
Post menopausal women have an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Asian women who live in Asian countries have virtually no hot flashes. Studies have been done to determine why this is the case, it has been widely attributed to higher consumption of soy products.
Soy may or may not work to control hot flashes. Some studies have shown that it reduces the intensity, but not the frequency of hot flashes. Other studies have shown that soy consumption may interfere with the body’s ability to produce estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for controlling menstruation and ovulation. This would mean that soy is actually working at cross purposes with the body.
In cultures where older people are more respected and aging is viewed as a positive experience, women have less symptoms and problems associated with menopause.
According to a Gallup poll from 1998, 51% of post menopausal women between the ages of 50-65 reported a greater sense of happiness than women in other age groups. The other age groups reported as follows: only 10 % of women in their 20s reported being happy, 17% of women in their 30s and 16% of women in their 40s.