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6 things you did as a teen that could lead to early menopause

Posted February 17

Usually, menopause happens to women when they are past childbearing years. When a year passes with no menstruation, a woman enters menopause for the rest of her life which usually happens around age 51, according to WebMD…but factors can cause premature menopause. You’ll stop menstruating, lose the ability to have children and experience the symptoms of menopause all before age 40. It’s a devastating realization for women who are still trying to conceive children in their late thirties.

While there are many factors the can cause early menopause (including genetics and some autoimmune diseases, according to healthline), your lifestyle as a teen (and as a twenty-something) can also be influential:

1. Sugary drinks and soda

According to a study, girls who drank more sugary drinks on a daily basis started their period several months earlier than those who did not. Sugar overload from sodas and sweetened juices can cause changes to your metabolism, which can potentially change a girl's menarche age, not to mention weight gain.

2. Obesity

Obesity plagues America’s children, causing many young girls to go through puberty earlier. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, child obesity has more than tripled since the 70s in the United States. Obesity in young girls could cause them to start their period earlier.

3. Starting your period early

Women who receive their period at 11 or younger are 80 percent more likely to experience early menopause. An early period could hint at poor reproductive health, though the exact causes have not been discovered. However, the studies done have proven a link between early menstruation and early menopause.

4. Not having children (by choice or infertility)

Women with early menstruation are more likely to have premature menopause, but they are in double trouble if they have not had children yet. Women are twice as likely to experience premature menopause if they have not had children when compared to women who have had one or more children. The study didn't clearly outline the correlation, but ovarian problems could be the reason why these premenopausal women have remained childless.

5. Smoking

According to a study, 14 percent of smoking women were at a greater risk of infertility and 26 percent of going through early menopause. Toxins in tobacco smoke can interfere with hormone production causing damage to egg cell production, fertility cycles and preventing an embryo’s ability to implant on the uterine wall

6. Cancer

Cancer treatments traditionally damage the ovaries. After receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy, it is possible —over time — to have some ovarian functions return. But the radiation is so harsh on the body, it usually causes ovary functions to begin to shut down. If they do not return to their natural state, the woman may continue straight into menopause. If you went throught cancer treatment as a teen or during your twenties, you could experience early menopause because of it.

Future health risks

Along with the devastation early menopause has on your reporductive future, it can increase the risk of several serious health concerns. These include polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes, endometriosis, heart disease and others.

Because every person's genetics and health behaviors are differents, it's not possible to know whether your overall health and lifestyle are causing menopause to occur early. However, “to improve health outcomes in later life, we need to be thinking of the risk factors through the whole of the woman’s life, from the early years and the time of their first period, through the childbearing years and the menopausal transition,” said Gita Mishra, a professor of lifecourse epidemiology at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Be informed of the elevated risks of premature menopause if you begin menstruating early. This will allow you and your doctor make more informed decisions about staying happy and healthy.

Kristina Tieken is a publics relations specialist with a love for the fine arts, food and exercise. She enjoys spending time with her husband and family.

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