delay menopause

Why Would We Delay Menopause if We Could?

Why would we delay menopause if we could is an interesting question. Knowing what I now know about changing hormones, if I was not post-menopausal, I would definitely try to delay going through menopause.

I was 44 years old, which is on the younger side when I was in full menopause (no period for 12 months). Whether it was lifestyle or genetics, this is when I stopped menstruating for good. I now know that early menopause (between the ages of 40 and 45), whether spontaneous or induced, is associated with long-term health risks such as cardiovascular disease, psychosexual dysfunction, neurologic disease, mood disorders, and osteoporosis.

Although it’s too late for me to delay menopause, maybe it’s still an option for you. Continue reading to learn more about the changing female body and why delayed menopause is beneficial for many women.

First, A True Story

I taught a group of about 17 women at a local hospital this week about menopause and lifestyle changes to feel better. A few seemed frustrated that they were still menstruating in their 50s. I assured them that aside from the inconvenience of bleeding and the ability to still get pregnant, the sex hormones they were still producing were protecting their health. They were intrigued and wanted to hear more.

One woman asked if you still go through menopause if you have never had children. It was a valid question because the more children you have (up to 3), the more delayed menopause can be. But all women, whether they have had children or not, will go through menopause if they live long enough. This question highlighted for me that we have a ways to go to fully understand the female body!

What Exactly is Menopause?

researching menopause symptoms

As many of you know, all women will inevitably go through menopause if they live long enough and identify as female.

Menopause is the one day you have not had a period for 12 full months and usually occurs in your 40s or 50s. It’s a natural occurrence that happens with the fluctuation and eventual decline of your sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. It’s important to note that the symptoms and health risks can start occurring 7-10 years before menopause, a stage called peri-menopause.

Symptoms and Health Risks of Peri-Menopause and Menopause

The drop in your sex hormones will cause a long list of symptoms (over 80) in many women. These are just a few of the main ones reported in the research I’ve done and the women I interact with:

  • hot flashes/night sweats
  • dry skin, including vaginal dryness
  • anger/rage/irritability
  • heart palpitations
  • joint pain
  • insomnia
  • weight gain
  • forgetfulness/brain fog

Health risks many women are at risk for with declining hormones:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • anxiety/depression
  • osteoporosis
  • type 2 diabetes
  • urinary incontinence

Ways To Delay Menopause

tips and tricks to make habits stick and delay menopause

While genetics plays a key role in when you reach menopause, other decisions affect when you will stop menstruating for good or delay this stage. Learn more about female hormones in my blog ‘Female Hormones 101 as You Age‘.

Your diet, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle choices will play a part. Unfortunately, no one super pill delays menopause but certain life choices and procedures can delay this inevitable transition.

  • One factor that can delay menopause is an increase in pregnancies up to 3 childbirths which naturally interrupts ovulation.
  • If you breastfed for a combined total of 25 months with all children, you can delay menopause by 27 percent.
  • Being on birth control pills during your reproductive years can delay menopause.
  • A higher body mass index (BMI) and consuming more fruit and protein in your diet is associated with a later onset of menopause.
  • Transplanting a woman’s own previously harvested ovarian tissue can also delay menopause according to new research led by Yale School of Medicine. This is an invasive procedure but can help women who wish to extend their childbearing years or just delay the effects of a drop in hormones (menopause). The younger a woman is (between 20 and 40), the better results this procedure will have.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not delay menopause. It can help you manage symptoms and decrease the health risks that come along with this stage of life. Think of it as a diabetic starting medication such as insulin. They are still diabetic but being on medication prevents complications.

Benefits of Delaying Menopause

Delaying menopause can reduce your risks of osteoporosis and fractures, cause an increase in reproductive span (ability to have a child), and decrease your overall cause of mortality (risk of dying).

It’s important to note that later menopause is overall healthier, but some studies show it can put some women at greater risk for breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.

If you are still menstruating in your late 50s or early 60s, you should see your physician. Or if you stop menstruating for a year, reach menopause, and begin bleeding again, seek medical attention. Being put on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can cause this side effect. The dose may need to be adjusted by your doctor.

Please reach out to work with me to further understand your changing body and how to feel your best!

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