Hold That Pause
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Cigarette Smoking Associated with Early Onset of Menopause?


As one who suffered greatly from her hormonal misery during perimenopause, I’m not so sure that reaching menopause at an earlier age is necessarily a bad thing. But considering some of the known health risks associated with menopause due to low estrogen levels, such as osteoporosis, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, perhaps the notion of early menopause is not such a good one.  

A few factors seem to be related to the early onset of menopause: maternal history of early menopause, environmental toxins, lifestyle, and now, according to a study published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, cigarette smoking also appears to put women at an increased risk of early menopause.

The study consisted of a compilation of data gathered from eleven other observational studies which evaluated the effect of cigarette smoking on the age of natural menopause (ANM) of approximately 50,000 participants.  Researchers concluded (though not definitively) that cigarette smoking seems to be associated with an approximately double risk of early menopause for women between the ages of 44 and 55.

According to another 2011 study published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers also concluded that cigarette smoking seems to be associated with the onset of early menopause due to a woman’s egg follicle pool being exposed to toxins in cigarette smoke, and thus, depleting the follicle stores sooner.  

Again, I’m not so certain that women suffering with hormonal imbalance during perimenopause and menopause would find the advent of early menopause such a bad thing.  I’m also not so sure that reaching menopause between the ages of 44 and 55 would be considered “early” menopause as one of the studies suggested, when it is widely understood and accepted that the average age of menopause for women in Western society is 52.

But, I do think we can all agree that cigarette smoking, regardless of whether it actually contributes to the early onset of menopause, brings with it enough serious and well documented health risks to avoid it all together.

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.