By: Kathy Mitchell
Menopause not only has your body going through a few changes, it also has you thinking you’ve lost your mind. Your mood swings are extreme, you’re sweating one minute and shivering from the cold the next. Of course, menopause is going to stress you out, but is there a link between stress and early menopause? Are our stressful lifestyles resulting in premature menopause?
The average age of menopause in the US is around 51 years old, however, one in 100 women will experience it by the time they turn 40. This is known as premature menopause and recent studies show the numbers are on the increase.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
- Bladder irritability
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Emotional changes
- Dry skin, eyes and/or mouth
- Decreased libido
What are the causes of early menopause?
There are a number of factors that can cause the early onset of menopause. These can be natural or medical.
Natural causes include premature ovarian failure, which is when a woman’s body stops releasing eggs and there is no longer hormone production. This can be due to a genetic predisposition or autoimmune disorders.
Medical conditions can also bring on premature menopause. Certain diseases like tuberculosis or mumps can affect the normal functioning of the ovaries as can a hysterectomy while tubal ligation can result in women experiencing menopausal-like symptoms.
Another cause is stress. While there is no direct correlation between early menopause and stress, it seems that it is more common in developing or third world countries, where women living in rural areas seem to experience it as much as eight years earlier than those living in developed countries like the UK and USA.
Evidence shows women who live in more challenging socioeconomic circumstances do experience it earlier than those who don’t, and while there is no conclusive evidence to link stress to early menopause, researchers think it’s a combination of factors, with one of them being stress. While there is no proof it causes early menopause, stress most certainly aggravates the symptoms.
Early menopause can leave you feeling emotionally battered. Physical changes occur that cause discomfort and psychologically it can bring on intense feelings of sadness, fear, shock and yes, you guessed it, stress. There is a sense of loss, especially with regards to your fertility, and it can leave you feeling less of a woman. It can also affect the way you see yourself, which will impact your self-esteem and even your sex life.
If you think you are experiencing early menopause it’s worth seeing your health practitioner to look at possible treatment options going forward. There are also a few ways to manage your stress, which should ease the symptoms.
- Take control
Early menopause can leave you feeling as though you’re no longer in control of what is happening with your body, but it doesn’t have to be the case. By managing the symptoms with the correct hormone treatment and finding a therapist or someone else you can share an open and honest relationship with is the first step to tackling it head-on. While it might feel like the end of your world, it most certainly isn’t.
- Invest in yourself and in friends
Early menopause gives you the chance to reflect on your life and make a few changes. Start by investing in yourself by adding some exercise to your routine, changing your diet to include healthier choices and keeping friends who lift you up and keep you positive. Now is not the time to hang onto flailing friendships that sap the energy out of you.
- Learn to say no
This is definitely easier said than done because the chances are very good that if you have high-stress levels you’re a people pleaser and have no idea how to say no, and mean it. Women are wired to multi-task and while it may serve you well in your early 20s and 30s, it adds a huge amount of unnecessary stress to an already stressful time. Learn to say no and scale back a bit. It’s a good way to relax and weed out the real friends from the fake (see point no.2).
- Enjoy the simple pleasures
Now is the time to enjoy the simple pleasures, like spending time with people who matter, be it friends or partners. And don’t give up on things that make you happy, like sex. If you battle with vaginal dryness and a lack of libido try Zestra, an essential oil, that assists in increasing the sensitivity of the labia and clitoris, which means an increase in arousal and pleasure. It’s completely natural, easy to apply and women who have used the product swear by it.
Early menopause and menopause is a part of the physical changes most women will undergo but it doesn’t have to feel like the end of something. Rather, we think, with the right friends and support system it could be the start of everything.