There are plenty of reasons for someone to quit smoking (or never start). There's the effects on lungs, the increased risk of cancer, damage to the skin and risks to a developing fetus to give one pause. Now research is showing that those who smoke tend to go through menopause earlier in life.
Menopause is typically defined as the time when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops for 12 consecutive months never to return. However women may experience the irritating, ever-changing symptoms for several years before and after they reach menopause.
While some women welcome the ending of their menstrual cycle with celebration, early cessation can increase the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
It's not entirely clear as to why smoking has such an impact but there is some speculation on the subject.
The cardiovascular changes reduce blood flow to the ovaries thus reducing oocytes and reducing estrogen and progesterone in circulation. The reduction in hormones can also worsen menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, memory, skin elasticity, insomnia and brain fog.
Osteoporosis occurs when bone density decreases to a point where the risk of fracture is quite concerning. Many women assume that by doing weight-bearing exercise and improving their calcium intake they will keep their bones healthy. However those who smoke are worsening their bone health which can lead to serious consequences.
When it comes to cardiovascular disease, smoking increases the risk of stroke and high blood pressure.
Early menopause causes a reduction in the naturally occurring estrogen a women makes which can worsen heart disease. It is thought that endogenous estrogen helps keep the blood vessels flexible which reduces the risk for blood pressure and stroke.
Smoking coupled with early menopause could really cause some problems.
If you are a smoker, really strongly consider stopping or talk with your health care provider about a smoking cessation program. If you are not a smoker, please do not start.
Many factors interact in regards to hormone balance, cardiovascular disease and bone health.