Starting Your Periods or the Menopause Early May Increase Your Risk of Stroke
This was the finding of a recent study, in which they discovered that women who began their periods before age 10 are at increased risk of suffering a stroke. This includes women who had begun menopause younger than age 45. If women begin menstruating before age 13, it is often caused by obesity which automatically increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.
When menopause begins, it’s associated with a reduction in hormones such as estrogen which help protect the heart. Estrogen prevents fats from circulating via the bloodstream, increasing the risk of stroke. Entering the menopause prematurely will mean these women lack the protective effects of these hormones for longer than average.
This increases the risk that a blood clot could develop in their brain, causing a stroke. Additionally, levels of hormones during the menopause can fluctuate considerably. This also increases the risk of higher bad cholesterol levels, making these risk factors even higher. Researchers are concerned that women entering the menopause should be monitored more carefully and made aware that they could be at a higher risk.
This, in turn, could help them to stick to healthier lifestyle behaviors to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, therefore lowering the risk of stroke. In the United States, stroke is the third leading cause of death for women. It is estimated that about 55,000 more women than men will be affected by a stroke each year. In addition to these risk factors, it’s also been found that estrogen-based oral contraceptives can increase the risk of suffering from stroke by up to 80%.
This is regardless of the amount of hormone contained in that brand of oral contraceptive. It’s thought this effect is due to oral contraceptives increasing the risk of blood clotting. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of a blood clot preventing blood flow to the brain.
Pregnancy is yet another risk factor associated with stroke. It’s estimated that women are more likely to suffer from this problem in the days leading up to giving birth and immediately afterward.
The risk is thought to be due to eclampsia, a serious condition that can cause convulsions in women suffering from high blood pressure during pregnancy. Eclampsia is estimated to be responsible for nearly half of all strokes in pregnant women.
It’s Possible Vitamin D Supplements Could Reduce the Risk of an Early Menopause
Yet another recent research study discovered that women may be able to reduce the risk of an early menopause. They can do so by making sure they receive the correct amount of vitamin D through food or through supplements. It’s thought that vitamin D could lower the risk of an early menopause by 17% because it can help the ovaries to age more slowly.
Additionally, eating plenty of calcium-rich foods could make women around 13% less likely to suffer from an early menopause. The risk of an early menopause is quite substantial as around 10% of women will go through menopause before age 45. This increases their risk of heart disease and osteoporosis and declining fertility before this time can reduce the chances of having a baby.
How to Tell If You Have Early Menopause Symptoms
During menopause, a woman’s menstrual periods will gradually cease. The medical definition of menopause is the absence of periods for 12 consecutive months and the average age of a natural menopause is approximately 51. However, there is considerable variation in this age and sometimes menopause may begin earlier due to genetic factors, surgery or due to disease.
The symptoms of a premature menopause are the same as those for a typical menopause. You may find you experience hot flashes and night sweats, your libido could diminish, and sex might become painful due to vaginal dryness. Weight gain is another common symptom and some women find the menopause affects their memory and cognition or that it causes mood swings.
Diagnosing and Treating Early Menopause
It’s not possible to reverse or prevent an early menopause but you can control unwanted symptoms. Your doctor or gynecologist will talk to you about which treatment options will be most useful.
One common treatment is hormone therapy which can be very effective in controlling hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Your doctor can discuss your suitability for this treatment, as well as the possible risk factors. Generally, they will only prescribe this treatment for the shortest period necessary to help control your symptoms.
Antidepressant medications can also be very effective in controlling hot flashes and are estimated to work for about 60% of women. If your doctor thinks you may be at risk of low bone density, they may suggest taking vitamin D supplements, consuming plenty of calcium and doing weight-bearing exercises.