Menopause is a natural process that occurs when menstrual periods stop due to lower hormone levels. This happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. It can occur before that time naturally or due to other causes of menopause like having an ovary removed, because of cancer treatments like chemotherapy or because of a genetic reason (NHS, 2022).
Usually, menopause happens as the ovaries age and produce fewer reproductive hormones. They stop releasing eggs and producing oestrogen and progesterone – the hormones that regulate menstruation. As a result, women stop having their period and, consequently, being fertile. You may want to know how long menopause lasts, as most women experience common symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, and anxiety, among many others (Huizen, 2020).
Discover the main five causes of menopause and their most relevant aspects.
The five causes of menopause
1. Natural hormonal deterioration, one of the causes of menopause
One of the main causes of menopause is the natural deterioration of reproductive hormones. As a natural process of a woman’s life cycle, upon approaching 40 years old, ovaries begin producing less oestrogen and progesterone. Then, fertility decreases. At this age, menstrual periods can be longer or shorter and become more or less intense. They can also become more frequent or less until they stop for a full year (Mayo Clinic, 2021).
2. Ovary removal surgery
Ovary removal surgery, or oophorectomy, may trigger the symptoms of menopause. This happens because the ovaries produce the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. By removing them, periods disappear. Hormone levels decrease rapidly and it is possible for women to experience more pointed menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes and a diminished sex drive (OASH, 2021).
3. Treatments for cancer
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and pelvic radiation are one of the causes of menopause. They can damage the ovaries and cause periods to stop completely, also affecting fertility. However, not all women who receive chemotherapy or radiation experience menopause as a result. The younger the woman is during treatment, the less likely the onset of menopause is (OASH, 2021).
4. Uterus removal surgery
Uterus removal surgery, or a hysterectomy, can bring about early menopause. However, it does not affect the ovaries or cause immediate menopause. Nevertheless, women who have this procedure generally enter menopause quicker, approximately in the five years following the surgery (Menopausia Now, 2019).
5. Primary ovarian insufficiency
Primary ovarian insufficiency is one of the causes of menopause. It happens when ovaries do not produce reproductive hormones at normal levels due to genetic factors, such as Turner syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome. Moreover, this insufficiency can also relate to autoimmune illnesses like thyroiditis and vitiligo (Mayo Clinic, 2021; Pinkerton, 2021).
Usually, primary ovarian insufficiency causes menopause at 40 years old or earlier. Ovaries stop producing oestrogen and periods become irregular until they disappear. This condition presents the same signs and symptoms as regular menopause and increases the signs of premature aging. Moreover, it causes 1% of female infertility (Gómez et al., 2022).
How to ease the symptoms of the causes of menopause
There are some recommendations that can help ease menopause symptoms and improve your quality of life during this stage (NHS, 2022):
- Follow a healthy diet including a lot of fruits and vegetables and calcium sources like milk, yoghurt, and kale to help maintain healthy bones.
- Exercise regularly by walking, running, or dancing. Also, practice resistance activities like weightlifting, and relaxing activities like yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
- Prioritise sleep: aim to go to bed and rise at the same time, and keep your room ventilated.
- Maintain social contact and talk to other women who are going through similar experiences. It will help improve your mood.
- Avoid smoking as well as alcoholic and caffeine beverages.
- Enjoy your sex life. You can use lubricants and vaginal moisturisers to alleviate vaginal dryness.
- Reduce your stress levels.
Knowing what menopause is and its impact is fundamental to experience it in the best way possible. There are five main causes of menopause. Even though it usually happens due to the natural deterioration of hormones, some surgeries and treatments can trigger its onset. Practicing the recommendations presented can help you ease its symptoms.
Gómez, J., Barranquero, M., Carizza, N., Gómez, R. y Salvador, Z. (2022, 07 de abril). Menopausia precoz o prematura: causas, síntomas y tratamientos. Reproducción asistida ORG. https://www.reproduccionasistida.org/la-menopausia-precoz/
Huizen, J. (2020, 13 de enero). Todo lo que debe saber sobre la menopausia. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause#outlook
Mayo Clinic. (2021, 14 de diciembre). Menopausia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
Menopausia Now. (2019, 14 de mayo). Causas de la menopausia. https://www.menopausenow.com/es/causas
Oficina para la Salud de la Mujer (OASH). (2021, 22 de febrero). Menopausia precoz o prematura. https://espanol.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause
Pinkerton, J. (2021). Menopausia prematura. Manual MSD. https://www.msdmanuals.com/es/hogar/salud-femenina/trastornos-menstruales-y-sangrados-vaginales-an%C3%B3malos/menopausia-prematura
Servicio Nacional de Salud en el Reino Unido (NHS). (2022, 17 de mayo). Menopausia. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/