Every woman who has a menstrual cycle eventually goes through menopause. It’s a natural change that occurs when a woman reaches the end of her child-bearing years. Every woman is different and reaches menopause at a different time in her life, but some women may experience early menopause. If you have a high-stress life, you may be worried that it will lead to experiencing menopause earlier in your life. Knowing the link between stress and menopause can help you understand what to expect in your own health and life.
What Is Menopause and When Is It Early?
Menopause is considered early when a woman does not have a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months prior to age 40. While early menopause is not overly common, it occurs in approximately one out of every 100 women in the United States. The average age of menopause is around 50. There are many reasons a woman may experience menopause early, including risk factors like genetics, smoking, and socioeconomic status.
Effects of Menopause
The effects of early menopause are the same as those of regular menopause. The only difference between the two is the age of the woman when the symptoms occur.
Symptoms of menopause include the following:
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Hot flashes
- Weight changes
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood changes
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary problems, including frequency or incontinence
Each woman experiences menopause differently, but the listed symptoms are the most common. In addition, the severity of the symptoms varies based on the individual woman. Some women may have severe symptoms and struggle through menopause, while other women may experience very few symptoms or none at all. If you are concerned about your symptoms, you should speak with your doctor.
Stress and Menopause
There are many things in life that can cause stress, including health changes. Along with the ordinary stress of going through a major life change, women going through menopause may feel stress because of the mood changes that occur at this time. These feelings of stress can contribute to other mood changes, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression. This is common for women because of the changes in hormone levels that occur during menopause.
While there is no significant evidence showing that stress leads to early menopause, it has been shown that stress during menopause can intensify other symptoms. Women with high levels of stress may experience more extreme mood changes as well as more intense physical symptoms. This is not only because of the changes during menopause but because of the effect of stress on the body. Many of the symptoms of menopause overlap with symptoms of high stress. Thus, it’s logical that stress would intensify symptoms a woman is already experiencing.
Keep in Mind
It’s well known that stress has a big effect on your physical and mental health. If you’re going through early menopause, high levels of stress can make your symptoms worse. You may not experience early menopause because of stress, but stress can have negative effects on your overall physical health. If you are concerned about your stress level, speak with your doctor about how it is affecting you and what you can do to ease the symptoms.