All stages of menopause, the perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal stage are caused by hormone changes, specifically, by waning levels of female hormones in the body.
Perimenopause – As a woman reaches the age of 50, the quantity and quality of her ovaries start to decrease and these cause her female hormones to decrease and to fluctuate. Her body reaches a point where it totally stops producing eggs – this is known as menopause. Before menopause, she experiences fluctuating hormone levels for a number of years – this stage is known as her perimenopause stage.
Menopause – As she experiences fluctuating hormones, the woman’s progesterone and estrogen levels start to decline and reaches a point where her body barely produces these hormones. As her estrogen levels falls, her menstrual cycle also becomes less and less until she ceases having menstruation completely. When she does not experience any menstruation at all for a full year, she is then considered to have reached menopause. After reaching menopause, her postmenopausal stage begins.
After the woman has experienced postmenopause for a year or more, she still will be producing estrogen but at very low levels. The low levels of estrogen causes changes in her body and often results in the thinning and drying of the skin as well as her urinary and vaginal passageways and accelerated bone loss. Menopause can come earlier if the female has undergone oophorectomy (extraction of her ovaries) or radiation treatment to her pelvis or abdomen.
Early Menopause Causes
Oophorectomy and radiation therapy are some of the causes of early menopause. Most females will usually experience menopause in the age their mothers had them. However, certain medical treatments and lifestyles can cause a woman to experience an early onset of menopause. These can include:
- Having a BMI of only 25 or even lower – Low body fat
- Being a vegan – This means living on a diet solely based on fruits and vegetables
- Living at high places – Living on a mountain, hill, etc.
- Oophorectomy –Removal of the ovaries promoting the sudden onset of menopause
- Autoimmune or genetic diseases
- Radiation therapy or other medical treatments or procedures to the pelvis or abdomen that causes the ovaries to die or stop functioning
- Extraction or radiation therapy of the pituitary gland
- Cigarette smoking – Women who smoke by average reach menopause at least a year and a half earlier than women who don’t smoke.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.