Some things in life are inevitable – they are bound to happen. Menopause is one such occurrence in a woman’s life that will occur in their life – earlier or later. Before mentioning ways to delay menopause, let’s take a glance at what menopause is.
If we have to define menopause in short and simple words, it is that phase when a woman does not have periods for twelve consecutive months. The average age for menopause is 45-55 years. However, most women experience it in the United States at around 51. However, there are also terms such as premature and early menopause. When a woman goes through menopause before 40, that is premature menopause; if it is before 45, it is termed early menopause.
So, getting at the topic, is it possible to delay menopause? Well, this is controversial, and if you are at that phase of life where you are nearing menopause, then there isn’t much to be done to postpone menopause. However, many factors indeed play an essential role in determining your ANM (age at natural menopause). The way you have lived your life – healthy or unhealthy plays a pivotal role to a certain extent in deciding how early or late you may have your menopause. Read on to know more.
Can You Delay Menopause?
As mentioned, it is difficult to answer the question in one word. When you are in your late menopause, and if you decide to chalk out ways to delay it, that wouldn’t be possible. However, certain factors come into play in determining how early or late you will have menopause. Let’s check them out.
Natural and Biological Factors Responsible for a Late Onset of Menopause
The age at which a woman will have menopause depends on many things, from genetics to pregnancy. One of the main things that tremendously impact a woman’s menopausal age is her diet and overall lifestyle. So, let us look at some factors that may influence the onset of menopause in women.
1. The Role of Genetics
The impact of genetics in determining a woman’s mean menopausal age has been researched and proven through several studies. Genetics is said to have a 50% influence on a woman’s menopausal age.
Your family history plays a significant role in determining what age you will have menopause. Suppose your mother, grandmom, or other kin members had it early through a natural process. In that case, you, too, can expect an early menopause. On the other hand, if late menopause is the general trend in your family, you might also follow suit. However, it is also important to mention that your overall health and lifestyle are also considered, irrespective of your family’s menopausal history.
2. History of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
An interesting relationship exists between a woman’s history of pregnancy and breastfeeding and their average menopausal age.
Mothers who breastfed their kids for 7-12 consecutive months were less likely to have early menopause (before 45) by around 28%. Those breastfeeding their babies between one and six months lessened their early menopause possibilities by about 5%. Women who breastfed their infants for almost two years were at a 27% reduced risk.
Similarly, for pregnancy, the greater the number of pregnancies, the lesser the risk of early menopause. This fact has also been validated through studies. Do look at the table below to understand how the number of full-term pregnancies in a woman is inversely proportional to her risk of early menopause.
|Number of full-term pregnancies||Lessened risk of an early menopause (%)|
So, from this, it can be deduced that breastfeeding and pregnancy play a significant role in not delaying your menopausal age. Instead, it will save you from the risk of early menopause.
3. The Role of Education
This is another fantastic finding, and a woman’s educational status has been said to influence a woman’s menopausal age. An Indian study deduced that education had a connection to the age at which a woman reached menopause. From the study, the following findings were gathered. Take a look at the table below:
|Education status||Mean menopausal age (in years)|
|Illiterate||46.1 (± 5.3)|
|Primary educated||45.7 (± 4.8)|
|Matriculation||45.8 (± 4.8)|
|Graduation||47.2 (± 4.4)|
It is not just this study; the impact of higher educational qualifications in increasing the menopausal age has also been shown through 46 other studies conducted throughout 24 countries. However, the exact reason for the link between a woman’s educational qualification and the age at which she reaches menopause isn’t known.
4. Marital Status
Several studies have highlighted the significant relationship between a woman’s marital status and menopausal age. The results showed that widowed or married women reached natural menopause later than their divorced or unmarried counterparts. The studies were conducted on different populations worldwide.
In Israel, it was seen that single women reached menopause at 48.3 years. Those who were divorced went into menopause at 48.4 years. Whereas for married and widowed women, the mean menopausal age was 49.4 and 49.3 years, respectively.
Another study in New York’s Greene also showed the same results as in the abovementioned study. Widowed and married women did have a later mean menopausal age over others. However, the exact reason for this occurrence remains unknown.
5. Impact of Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking is also one of the triggers which influences the menopausal age. It has been said that women who are smokers can experience menopause earlier by about a year than those who don’t smoke.
For heavy smokers, the menopausal age could be preponed to about two years from the estimated menopausal age. Researchers have devised several explanations to show how smoking results in early menopause. Some opine that smoking may reduce estrogen levels. Others feel that the chemicals in cigarette smoke could kill the eggs in the ovary or even reduce their quality, leading to an abnormal development during fertilization.
When it comes to alcohol consumption and the onset of menopause, there are mixed opinions. Some studies couldn’t observe any link between alcohol consumption and the menopausal age in women.
A few mentioned alcohol consumption to be responsible for early menopause. Whereas some even highlighted the role of alcohol in delaying menopause.
A meta-analysis of over 20 studies, including over 100,000 participants, assessed the link between alcohol consumption and menopause. Most of the findings attributed to the fact that women consuming alcohol on a low or moderate basis could experience menopause a little later than those who did not drink.
However, these findings aren’t enough, and more studies are needed to conclude the role of alcohol in preponing or postponing the onset of menopause.
Now, if you wish to keep your reproductive years on for some time, consuming alcohol just because it will delay menopause isn’t a good thing to do. Per the CDC, one drink daily is considered moderate alcohol consumption for females.
But women wishing to drink alcohol because it will delay menopause shouldn’t do the same. Alcohol consumption comes with a lot of health hazards.
6. The Role of Diet
Diet is said to affect the onset of natural menopause significantly. Here are some of the findings regarding the role of diet in menopause.
- When your diet comprises more fruits and veggies, you will likely have menopause a little later than those who don’t include these edibles. There have been studies to validate the same. The reason is the presence of antioxidants that help counter the reactive oxygen species’ adverse effects on the ovarian eggs’ release and maturation.
- Another rich source of antioxidants is omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in foods like oily fish, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc. A UK study on women between 40 and 65 years of age deduced that an increased intake of fresh legumes and oily fish could delay natural menopause by around 3.3 years.
However, eating any food in excessive amounts isn’t good. So, if you overeat legumes and oily fish expecting to delay menopause, that could lead to other health hazards. For example, a single serving of oily fish a week would be apt, not more.
- Another study suggested that women eating high amounts of Vitamin D in their diet had a low risk of early menopause.
- Then, there is a difference between people who eat vegetarian and those who consume meat. Researchers have deduced that those strictly on a veggie diet will likely go through menopause one year earlier than those eating meat. Certain veg meals are fiber-rich but low in animal fat, which can deplete estrogen levels.
However, meat eaters who consume savories like pretzels, chips, etc., may experience menopause about two years earlier than meat eaters who refrain from eating such food.
- Women without kids could go through late menopause when they ate a lot of poultry and grapes.
Medical Reasons Responsible for Delayed Menopause
We mentioned some of the natural reasons above that could result in a delayed onset of biological response. Let us understand if specific medical reasons could lead to late menopause. Here are a few explanations:
1. Effects of Oral Contraceptives
Birth control pills are said to delay a woman’s natural menopausal age. A study showed that women on birth control pills in their reproductive years experienced menopause late. The study in question was conducted on Afro-American women.
In another study, the role of long-term use of contraceptives in late menopause was investigated. The findings lack consistency. However, those who didn’t use too much of contraceptives weren’t at risk of early menopause though. More research is needed to finalize the fact that prolonged use of oral contraceptives triggers late menopause.
So, it is safe to say that there isn’t any assurance about the fact that birth control pills will postpone menopause. Instead, they will mask the perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms by making an artificial cycle. In this way, when on birth control pills, it will be difficult to understand if the menopause transition or menopause phase has set in.
2. Role of Technologies
Several biotech companies are coming up over time with hormone therapies, which may lead to a delayed onset of menopause. Clematis is one such company, where the drug program created by them aims towards preventing a woman’s ovarian reserve from getting depleted soon.
The AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone) is functional in developing the eggs in the ovary. High levels of AMH mean increased availability of eggs, while reduced hormone levels mean a shrinkage in the egg supply. When a woman nears menopause, there is a gradual decline in the AMH levels. The role of Clematius or most biotech companies is to produce drugs that mimic the AMH.
The clinical trials for Clematis began in 2023, with the products implemented on young women undergoing chemotherapy. Not just Clematis; other biotech companies are also working on similar lines.
3. Medical Procedures
An IVF clinic in the United Kingdom has developed a procedure to delay menopause for as much as 20 years. It has a massive cost, £7,000 – £11,000. In the process, a small section of the ovarian tissue is removed and then frozen.
The frozen tissue will eventually be thawed and reimplanted in the woman’s body as she nears menopause. The reinsertion doesn’t need to be close to the ovary. This isn’t a new procedure, as it has been used to help young women with cancer retain their fertility.
Its usage in delaying menopause has been for the first time. It could be reimplanted in locations like the armpit where monitoring is more manageable. Time will tell about the effectiveness of this surgery.
However, doctors responsible for its development hope implementing this procedure will help delay menopause.
4. Health-Related Reasons
Specific health-related issues may result in a delayed onset of menopause. Let’s talk about them here.
- Women whose estrogen levels have remained abnormally high all their lives will likely experience a delayed onset of natural menopause.
- Obese women also have a chance of delayed menopause since fat results in the production of estrogen. A study conducted on 1136 women showed a woman’s BMI (Body Mass Index) affected her menopausal age. High BMI meant delayed menopause. The preferred BMI for most women is between 18.5 and 24.9.
- A woman with thyroid disorders could have menopause either early or late. Moreover, an overactive thyroid could produce symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disorders, and irregular periods, which could mimic menopausal signs.
It has been found through studies that an intake of Vitamin B6 may help to delay menopause by around 0.6 years. On the other hand, taking zinc and its supplements may prolong menopause by 0.3 years on average.
Ashwagandha can’t delay menopause, but it can alleviate hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. This fact has been proven through studies also.
Reaching menopause at a later age comes with its boon and bane. While a delayed menopause saves you from the risks of a heart attack and fractures, it could even put you at the risk of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers.
However, besides the natural and medical reasons highlighted, you could save yourself from premature or early menopause by caring for yourself and your health. Eating healthy and exercising well are the prerequisites.