February 21, 2024/Women's Health

Does Your Health Determine Menopause Age?

Reaching menopause very early raises your risk of certain health conditions

doctor speaking with middle-age woman

A menopause predictor would be really nice, wouldn’t it? It’d be helpful to know when your reproductive years are coming to an end. But most people won’t know exactly when their menopause will begin.


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But Ob/Gyn Julia Girzhel, MD, can help you prepare for this phase as much as possible.

Dr. Girzhel discusses the average age of menopause, whether you can speed up or delay menopause and the health risks of going into menopause very early. She also answers common questions about what can affect menopause timing.

When will you go through menopause?

The average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51, and you know you’re officially there if you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. The typical time to begin menopause is between ages 45 and 58. The changes that begin before menopause, a time called perimenopause, can begin up to 10 years before menopause.

Getting to menopause a little earlier or later than age 51 typically doesn’t mean there’s a problem with your health. But hitting menopause around the average age is ideal, says Dr. Girzhel. If you have menopause symptoms before age 40, you should talk to a healthcare provider.

Can you delay menopause?

Some factors may cause you to enter menopause slightly later than average. But there are no real strategies for significantly delaying menopause, according to Dr. Girzhel. That’s especially true if you’re already in the menopause transition or perimenopause.

If you’re wondering how to speed up menopause instead of delaying it, it’s typically best not to do anything. Let nature take its course. But sometimes, earlier menopause can occur due to health conditions and events such as:

Is it better to go through menopause early or late?

Typically, it’s healthiest to go through menopause around the average age that people experience it — sometime between 45 and 58.

“Menopause between ages 40 and 45 is called early menopause. If menopause happens very early, before age 40, it’s called premature menopause,” clarifies Dr. Girzhel. Research indicates that premature menopause raises your risk for:

But you may be able to lower the risks of premature menopause with hormone therapy (HT). Your provider can help you with the right treatment for premature menopause.


What factors affect when you’ll go through menopause?

You can’t know exactly when you’ll go through menopause if you go through the transition naturally. But some factors may slightly impact menopause. Dr. Girzhel separates the facts from the fiction of menopause timing.

Does the age you start your period determine menopause age?

On average, people have their first menstrual period between 12 and 13 years old. The typical age range is 10 to 16. According to Dr. Girzhel, starting your period earlier or later than average doesn’t affect when you enter menopause.

Does your cycle length impact menopause age?

Yes, your menstrual cycle length may impact when you start menopause. According to a study, if your cycles average fewer than 25 days, you may start menopause earlier than people with cycles that are typically 26 to 34 days.

Many things can cause your cycle length to change, and irregular periods can happen once in a while or often. Reasons for cycle length changes include:

Does the age your mother reached menopause impact your menopause age?

“Yes, the age your mother started menopause is a strong predictor for when you will enter menopause,” says Dr. Girzhel.

In fact, your mother’s menopause age is probably the best overall predictor of when you’ll start menopause.

Does alcohol use or smoking affect menopause age?

Moderate drinking typically doesn’t impact menopause timing. But “Excessive alcohol use can significantly disrupt your menstrual patterns and metabolism,” notes Dr. Girzhel.

And smoking does affect menopause. Research shows that smoking may bring on menopause up to two years earlier compared to people who don’t smoke.

Do menopause symptoms predict the timing of menopause?

Some people seem to sail through perimenopause with relative ease, while it’s sheer misery for others. “The severity of your menopause symptoms isn’t a predictor of menopause age,” states Dr. Girzhel.


And symptoms can vary a lot, even among family members who start menopause at similar ages.

Does having more children impact menopause age?

Having at least one full-term pregnancy lowers your risk of early menopause. Breastfeeding (chestfeeding) also reduces your risk of early menopause. If you’ve never had a pregnancy, you may experience menopause earlier.

Does trauma affect menopause timing?

“The severe stress that comes with trauma can affect your hormonal cycles,” says Dr. Girzhel. “You may even stop having periods for some time. This change is usually temporary and doesn’t affect menopause age.”

However, some evidence suggests a link between PTSD and worse symptoms during the menopause transition.

Does having your ovary or uterus removed affect menopause age?

“The average age of menopause with one ovary is the same as the average age of menopause if you have two ovaries,” says Dr. Girzhel.

But if you get both ovaries removed, you’re going to experience early or premature menopause.

“If you have your uterus removed (hysterectomy), you may experience menopause one to two years earlier than if you still had your uterus,” she adds.

Sometimes, early or late menopause happens with no obvious explanation for the timing. If your periods stop before age 45, or you experience period changes or troublesome symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider. Together, you can find ways to ease symptoms and reduce health risks so you can fully enjoy the next phase of life.

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