Does Smoking Hasten the Onset of Menopause?
Does Smoking Cause Early Menopause?
The adverse health effects of smoking are well documented. But women can now add one more reason to the list of why they should stop smoking. Researchers have found that women who smoke are more likely to experience an earlier onset of menopause. Let’s discuss how smoking contributes to earlier menopause, what menopausal symptoms you may encounter, and how to experience a smoother menopause transition.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the point in a woman’s life when she stops having menstrual cycles or periods. A woman that has not experienced a period for twelve consecutive months is considered to be in menopause.
What many people refer to as menopause is actually the perimenopausal period. This transitional time in a woman’s life is when hormone levels decline, leading up to the final period. This transition occurs for most women between the ages of 45 through 55. Symptoms that can be experienced during this transition include:
- Hot flashes
- Mood alterations
- Painful sex
- Lowered energy levels
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinner hair and dry skin
The Smoking Link
Researchers have found that women who smoke are 43% more likely to experience earlier menopause than non-smokers. While the link between early menopause and smoking is not entirely understood, two theories exist. The first theory is that smoking activates genetic components which destroy cells in the ovaries. The second theory is that smoking affects how women’s bodies respond to estrogen.
Why Early Menopause Is Harmful
The age at which a woman enters menopause is linked to bone and heart disease risks and breast cancer. Women that enter menopause late have a higher risk for breast cancer. However, women who enter menopause earlier experience more osteoporosis problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Also, women who smoke tend to experience more severe menopausal symptoms than those who don’t.
Reverse the Risks
The good news is that stopping smoking before the age of 40 will reverse most of the risks. The risk of stroke and heart disease from smoking starts almost immediately once you stop smoking. Cancer risks decline more slowly. Women who quit smoking by age 50 increase their lifespan by about six years, while those who quit before age 60 will gain another four years.
Help with Quitting Smoking
Stopping smoking is a difficult thing for many people. Fortunately, there are many resources available to you to help you quit. Consider the following methods for smoking cessation:
- Cold turkey: this method involves picking a date and putting the cigarettes down. No medications or nicotine replacements are used. While about 90% of people who try to stop smoking use this method, it is not the most highly effective method for long-term cessation.
- Behavioral therapy: this method involves working with a counselor to determine common smoking triggers and a plan to deal with them when they arise.
- Nicotine replacement: several products are available, including gums, patches, inhalers, sprays, and lozenges. These products are designed to help you gradually step down the amount of nicotine you use in a day with the end goal of eventually weaning off nicotine entirely.
- Medication: bupropion and varenicline (Chantix) are prescription medicines designed to combat cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Combo treatments: combination therapy can be highly effective. For example, using nicotine replacement or medication in combination with behavioral therapy.
No matter which method you choose, involving and gaining friends and family support is instrumental to your success in quitting smoking.
Relieving Menopausal Symptoms
If you are experiencing negative symptoms during perimenopause and menopause, quitting smoking will help. There are additional treatments that are available as well. Supplementing hormone levels is possible with our bioidentical hormone therapy. The process begins with a consultation from Vitality Aesthetic and Regenerative Medicine. Your hormone levels will be tested and evaluated, allowing us to customize treatment to your needs.
Customized treatment means that you’ll receive only the hormones you need in doses that are specific to you. Our specialist will work with you to determine the best method for administering your bioidentical hormone therapy. Administration methods include topical injections and pellet therapy. Many women are amazed at the difference in how they feel once they begin treatment.
Feel Great in Menopause and Beyond
While many women view menopause negatively, it can be a time of feeling vibrant and alive. Improve your general health and decrease menopausal effects by quitting smoking as early on in life as you can. If menopausal symptoms are bothersome, there are many treatment options to alleviate them. With customized treatment plans, we can keep you feeling amazing through all phases of your life.