Healthcare professionals categorize menopause as more of a life event than a medical condition. This occurrence marks the time when a woman’s reproductive system no longer produces or secretes sexual and reproductive hormones. As the event progresses, a woman will eventually no longer experience menstrual cycles and lose the ability to become pregnant.
In most instances, menopause begins during the late fifth or early into the sixth decade of life. However, in certain individuals, menopause might begin at an earlier age. Healthcare professionals opine that early menopause is classified as commencing prior to age 45. In some cases, it can begin even before a woman turns 40.
- Triggers – Early-onset menopause can be precipitated by several different causes. Many health maladies elicit significant reproductive hormone imbalances, which is often the primary trigger. Medical issues inducing early menopause can include genetic defects, autoimmune system disorders, various reproductive system diseases and lifestyle factors such as a poor diet, excessive alcohol or illicit drug intake, cigarette smoking, and obesity.
The Connection Between Pollutants and Premature Menopause
Recent scientific research has concluded that exposure to potentially harmful environmental pollutants, toxins, and allergens might also be a major precipitating factor. Researchers further opine that substances known as endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, are cause for serious concern.
These chemicals are thought to wreak havoc on systemic hormonal production. Specifically, these substances are believed to interfere with the production and secretion of estrogen, which is the chief female sexual and reproductive hormone. Estrogen depletion is often among the major causes of various reproductive system disorders and the development of early menopause.
Unfortunately, EDCs are found in many different products commonly used or consumed by women. Known EDCs include phthalates, biphenyls and organic phosphates. These chemicals are found in items like plastic bottles, countless cosmetic products, pesticides, skin creams and lotions, perfumes, food storage materials like plastic containers and building materials used to construct electronic devices.
Researchers representing the Colorado School of Medicine studied the effect of EDCs on more than 31,000 women from 1999 to 2008. They concluded that numerous EDCs found in cosmetics, perfume and beauty products were found inside the bodies of a vast majority of these subjects. Scientists also discovered that many of the examinees entered menopause anywhere from roughly two to four years earlier than women with lower systemic concentrations of these substances.
Preventive Measures Women Can Employ
While scientists cannot guarantee that EDC exposure will lead to early onset menopause, they claim that eliminating or significantly limiting contact with such substances may greatly reduce a woman’s chances.
This goal might be attained by adhering to precautionary measures, such as the following:
- Dusting and Vacuuming Often – EDC particles can flow freely through the air and settle into items like furniture and carpeting. They can be eliminated or reduced through actions like frequent dusting and vacuuming.
- Avoiding Products Containing Heavily-Scented Fragrances – Heavily-scented fragrances often contain elevated levels of EDCs. Products like air fresheners, detergents, and other cleaning products should be used sparingly or not at all. Environmentalists suggest using natural scents like citrus peels and fresh flowers.
- Washing Hands – Human hands touch many surfaces containing countless potentially hazardous substances, especially EDCs. The mere act of rinsing one’s hands using warm water and soap might kill many different EDCs on contact.
- Avoiding Use of Plastic Containers – Plastic containers are notorious for containing high concentrations of EDCs. Healthcare professionals stress that women should not drink water from or store food in such items.
- Consuming Organic Foods – Many foods, especially frozen or processed foods, are stored in plastic containers. Medical professionals suggest women should consider consuming as many organic foods as they can afford.
- Limiting Cosmetics Usage – Cosmetic products are also notorious for their EDC concentrations. Thus, makeup should be used infrequently.