Many scientists are not exactly sure what causes early menopause. While many women experience menopause during their 50s, an increasingly large number of women are experiencing it before they turn 40. In the 1980s, about 1% of women went through early menopause. During current times, 6% of women have experienced early menopause due to reasons that have not been explained. Current studies are showing that smoking may play a role, as well as Celiac disease.
Smoking and Lower Social Economic Backgrounds
Imperial College London recently did a study on women that have gone through menopause, and the age it occurred. It was an attempt to find out what causes a woman to experience early menopause. They researchers found that women that smoked and women from poorer economic backgrounds were more likely to experience it.
The study examined 5000 women that were born in the UK. All of them were born in the same week in 1958. The researchers checked in on the women 8 times during the study. When they turned 50 years old, the researchers asked them about when they reached menopause and their lifestyles.
7.4% of the 5000 women had gone through early menopause before they reached 40 years old, with smokers and women of poorer backgrounds being most susceptible. Some women had their ovaries removed or they stopped working after cancer treatments. However, that still left 6% of women whose early menopause couldn’t be explained.
The researchers couldn’t come to a definite reason why women smokers and less affluent women were at higher risk.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects 1% of women within the United States. The condition causes them to react to gluten, which is found in things like wheat and barley. Celiac disease can cause women to react to gluten and develop diarrhea.
A study done by the University of Naples, Italy, found that women that had Celiac disease and went untreated were more likely to experience early menopause. The doctors believe this may happen because it causes their estrogen levels to decrease. They also have lower levels of body fat and inflammation can cause hormones to be imbalanced.
Women that had celiac disease and didn’t receive treatment had many of the classic symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes.
Risks of Early Menopause
Dr. Rumana Islam was one of the researchers at Imperial College London that studied the 5000 women. Dr. Islam’s main concern is that many women and doctors do not understand the risks posed by early menopause.
Dr. Islam says, “Not only is there a greater risk of osteoporosis, there is a higher risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease.”
Many of the increased risks stem from having low levels of estrogen early on in life. While the estrogen normally protects them from complications, early menopause exposes them to many problems. Women experiencing early menopause are 2 times more likely to have a heart attack, and are at risk for gum disease, loosing teeth, and ovarian cancer.
Early Menopause Causes: Linked to Smoking and Social Background
Early Menopause Causes: Linked to Celiac Disease
Early Menopause: Symptoms