It is difficult to predict exactly when a woman will enter menopause. Our genes
are the number-one determinant of our “reproductive span,” so the best predictors
we currently have are our mothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins. If you transition
into menopause naturally, there is a good chance that you will have your last menstrual
period at about the same age your mother did. However, there are always exceptions
to this gauge.
Like so many things in nature, the age at which women in any given population will
reach menopause follows the shape of a bell curve. The majority of the women in
the population will fall under the peak of the bell’s dome at about 51.7 years of
age, and there will also be lots, though fewer, women falling along either side
of the average, some entering menopause later, and some earlier.
As defined in medical literature, early menopause is when a woman reaches
menopause between ages 40–45. There is also a smaller population of women (about
1% worldwide) who enter menopause before the age of 40, sometimes referred to as
premature menopause or premature ovarian failure (POF). The latter
occurrence is sometimes associated with autoimmune concerns, which again, are linked
to a woman’s genetic blueprint. Geneticists are currently working to develop predictive
genetic testing to help women determine their risk of premature menopause.
But genetics aren’t the only determinant. The emerging field of epigenetics
is revealing how environment can “nudge” our genes into action when “primed” by
certain environmental conditions. Chronic stress, smoking, nutritional deficiencies,
poverty, and inadvertent environmental exposures can all lead a woman to transition
more quickly into menopause than she might have otherwise.
Some other factors that can bring on menopause sooner include surgical removal of
your ovaries or disruption of the blood supply to your ovaries from surgery, radiation,
chemotherapy, or certain medications.
You can help balance your hormones for a healthy menopausal transition by instituting
a core foundation of sound nutrition, taking a high-grade multivitamin/mineral complex
daily to fill in any gaps, getting regular exercise, and keeping your stress levels
down. Taking these natural measures now will allow you to enter and enjoy menopause
in a state of health, at the time Mother Nature intended as “just right”