7 Steps You Can Take Right Now To Prevent Early Menopause

These simple tweaks might make a big difference.

Menopause isn’t something most of us like to think about. Sure, just like wrinkles and bladder problems, it’s going to happen eventually, but why worry about it any sooner than we have to? For most women that means forgetting about it until around 51, the average age of menopause. But for 1 percent of women the dreaded change comes much earlier—before age 40.

The technical term for this early menopause is premature ovarian failure or insufficiency and it’s characterized by hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, sexual issues, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, pelvic floor disorders (urine, bowel leakage, pelvic organ prolapse), losing bone mass, and mood swings.

 

Experiencing these changes at 50 isn’t fun but going through them in your thirties or even your twenties can wreak havoc on your body and spirit. What’s a girl to do? While age of menopause (including early menopause) is mostly predetermined by your genes, there are some things you can do that can possibly delay it or at least help lessen the symptoms. Let our experts tell you how:

 

Know Your Risk Factors

Every woman has to go through menopause at some point, but when exactly that hormonal transition begins for you is influenced by several factors, says Sherry Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

These include a genetic predisposition, family history (so ask your mom when she started into menopause!), chromosomal disorders such as Turner Syndrome (when a female is born with only one X chromosome), being very underweight or obese, a long smoking history, past chemotherapy or radiation therapy, those with autoimmune diseases, and epilepsy, she says. Some of these you can’t change but others—like weight and smoking—you have plenty of control over. Make an appointment to talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors to develop a plan to mitigate as many of them as you can, Ross advises.

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