August 09, 2017. By CFA.
Early menopause rates are on the rise because of the myriad of chemicals that affect human hormone production and hormone balance. Once menopause begins, your body is no longer releasing viable eggs – or producing the blood-rich uterine lining required to implant and grow a healthy baby.
Facts About Early Menopause and Fertility
If you want to have a baby, your best bet is to conceive before you start menopause. Since the age women begin menopause varies from woman to woman – that means getting started sooner rather than later.
Menopause is officially diagnosed when a woman hasn’t had a period in 12-months or longer, signaling the end of her child-bearing years. On average, this occurs somewhere in the early to mid-50s.
However, some women go through menopause long before they expect to. In addition to genetics (women with mothers or sisters diagnosed with premature menopause are more likely to experience it themselves), common triggers for early menopause include radiation and chemotherapy treatments, as well as certain autoimmune disorders.
If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that is known to cause early menopause, or for which the treatment is linked to infertility, you may be a candidate for egg freezing. Similarly, women who have a family history of early menopause may also seek egg freezing as a potential fertility option.
Early menopause is diagnosed when a woman begins exhibiting menopausal symptoms and hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) before the age of 40. Symptoms of early menopause include:
- Irregular or missed periods in women who are typically regular
- Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
- Hot flashes
- Moodiness or irritability
- Vaginal dryness and/or a lack of libido
- Trouble sleeping
If you are exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms before the age of 40, or in the early 40s if you are still planning on having a baby, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN as soon as you can to determine whether it is early menopause or something else. While the symptoms of menopause can be treated with diet, lifestyle changes and hormone therapy, there is no way to reverse the process. If you are diagnosed with premature menopause and you want to have a baby, schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist ASAP.
Surprising Causes of Early Menopause
Some of the potential causes of early menopause are alarming due to their widespread use and availability. These include things like:
Plastic containers. Drinking beverages or eating foods stored in plastic containers means you are being exposed to higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Even containers that say they are PCB-free are not necessarily so. These chemicals are considered endocrine disruptors, meaning they affect hormone levels. Try to consume foods stored in glass and don’t ever heat plastic products in the microwave (even if they say they’re microwave safe).
Phthalates. Phthalates are another ubiquitous group of chemicals that seem to be everywhere. Like PCBs, they also negatively impact hormone production. Phthalates are found in most mainstream health and beauty products along with any perfume, cologne or product that has “Fragrance” listed in the ingredient list (that’s just another word for “fake smell engineered in a lab”). Read health and beauty product labels carefully to avoid phthalates or “Fragrance.” Better yet, only buy products that advertise they are “Phthalate-Free.”
Commercial meat and animal by-products. Becoming vegan or vegetarian is your choice, however, should you eat meat we encourage you to avoid factory-farmed meat and animal by-products. The animals who are raised for meat or to produce food products via commercial farming are loaded with hormones, and these hormones transfer from their meat, milk, eggs, dairy products, etc., right into your body. Even fish have no choice but to swim in polluted waters so their meat is slightly contaminated as well. Opt for organic or hormone-free food products whenever possible to limit your industrial hormone exposure.
Pesticides. Similarly, some of the main pesticides/herbicides used to grow our fruits and vegetables are also linked to infertility problems and early menopause. Try to purchase organic or pesticide-free options whenever possible. They may be more expensive, but consider it an investment in your health, as well as the health of your future baby.
Do you have questions about early menopause and fertility? Contact us at Columbia Fertility Associates to learn more about fertility solutions for your family.