Menopause Before 45 Increases The Risk of Dementia Later In Life

Feb 06, 2024

Preliminary data suggests that women who went through the menopausal transition before age 45 are at a higher risk of developing dementia later in life than those who began natural menopause at a more typical age.

"Our study indicated that women who reach menopause relatively early were at increased risk of having dementia later in life."

Dr Hao suggests that women should be especially vigilant about keeping their doctors updated on changes in their mental faculties as they age. Awareness of this higher risk can help them implement interventions to reduce the likelihood of developing dementia. 1

Menopause Typically Occurs At The Age Of 51 In The United States

According to the North American Menopause Society, menopause is diagnosed when a woman has not had a period for 12 months. A woman's reproductive years typically end at the age of 51.

Who was not involved in this study, premature menopause occurs when a woman reaches menopause before the age of 40. Only 2% of women experience that. Thus it's reasonable to assume that at least 7 per cent of women will experience menopause before they reach their biological middle age. 2

What Factors Influence a Woman's Menopausal Transition?

Several variables influence a woman's menopausal timeline, according to Dr Lauren Streicher, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and medical director of the Northwestern Center for Menopause in Chicago, who Everyday Health previously interviewed. 3

She said that heredity plays a significant factor in determining menopause onset age. She also notes that a woman's race or ethnicity might play a role in the onset of menopause. 4

Women of color experience the onset of perimenopause and menopause at much younger ages compared to white women. Women who smoke or who have autoimmune illnesses, thyroid issues, or lupus have a greater chance of approaching menopause at a younger age than other women. Lupus is also associated with an earlier onset of menopause. 5

Prompt Menopause Associated with Earlier Onset of Dementia

Health records from 153,291 women, with a mean age of 60 at enrollment in the UK Biobank, were utilized to investigate the possible link between the age at which menopause begins and the development of dementia of any aetiology. 1

Over half a million people's blood, urine, and saliva samples and extensive health records are stored in the UK Biobank, making it a valuable worldwide resource for studying various diseases. Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and other forms of dementia were all on the radar for the researchers. 2

More Research Is Needed on Menopause Timing and Dementia

Hao remarked that more study was required to determine whether or not incorporating menopausal age as a predictor in current dementia models was beneficial. This may help doctors determine a woman's risk of dementia more precisely. 3

However, Faubion emphasizes the need for more studies to evaluate whether or not factoring in menopausal age enhances the ability to forecast the risk of dementia. 4

The authors of this study think its scope is limited since there is little information on the factors that trigger menopause. The conclusions of this study may not be generalizable beyond its initial sample, which consisted of white women living in the United Kingdom. 5

Methods To Lower The Odds of Developing Dementia

Clinicians caring for women should be aware of their patients' ages at menopause start, and those who entered menopause before age 45 should be regularly monitored for cognitive deterioration.

In addition to keeping an eye on these ladies, estrogen replacement therapy has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of dementia and other complications for women who went through menopause too soon.

As reported by MedlinePlus, hormone replacement treatment (HRT), often known as a synthetic estrogen, is not without its hazards. Discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks with your doctor. According to Hao, a few strategies may help women who enter menopause at a younger age lower their chances of developing dementia.

She elaborated, "This includes frequent exercise, involvement in recreational and educational activities, not smoking and not drinking alcohol, keeping a healthy weight, receiving adequate vitamin D, and, if prescribed by their physician, potentially taking calcium supplements.