Early Menopause Risk Factors
While women generally enter menopause between the ages of 41
and 55, there are many factors that can interrupt the normal cycle of a woman’s
reproductive system and bring about menopause earlier than normal. Premature
menopause, also referred to as “premature ovarian failure,” occurs when a woman
begins menopause before age 40.
According to the American Pregnancy
Association, about 1 in 1000 women age 15-29 and 1 in 100 women between the
ages of 30-39 experience early menopause. In some cases, premature menopause is
caused from the result of a surgery, like the removal of the ovaries, or damage
through radiation. In other cases, premature menopause may be attributed to a
genetic disorder, an autoimmune disease, or an unknown reason. Risk
factors for premature menopause include the following.
Women who have one ovary removed (single oophorectomy) or a
removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) have a reduced amount of estrogen and
progesterone in their bodies. Early menopause can develop as a side effect
among women who have undergone cervical cancer surgery or pelvic
surgery. The removal of both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy) causes immediate
Chemotherapy and Radiation
Chemotherapy and radiation greatly increases the risk
of premature menopause. According to the
Mayo Clinic, radiotherapy can damage ovarian tissues and lead to early
onset of menopause.
Certain defects in chromosomes can lead to premature
menopause. One such condition, Turner syndrome, occurs when a girl is born
with an incomplete chromosome. Women with Turner syndrome have ovaries that
don’t function properly, often causing them to enter menopause prematurely.
Premature menopause can be a symptom of an autoimmune
disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when a body’s immune system erroneously
attacks a part of the body, mistaking it for a harmful substance. Particular
autoimmune diseases, including thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis, can
cause the immune system to attack the ovaries and ovarian tissues. This can
lead to premature menopause.
A study in Epilepsia suggested that
women with epilepsy have a higher risk of developing early menopause.
A woman with a family history of early menopause has an
increased risk for entering early menopause.
According to the Mayo
Clinic, women who smoke experience menopause one to two years earlier than
women who don’t smoke.