How Menopause Affects Aging

How Menopause Affects Aging

Menopause versus Age

Many people mistakenly think that menopause means a woman is getting old. That’s probably one of the main reasons menopause is considered a taboo topic.

But menopause isn’t about age at all–it’s about transition. The transition from the menstruating and reproductive years to the not menstruating and post-reproductive years.

In fact, menopause can happen at almost any age.

  • 1 in 10,000 women are in menopause before age 20
  • 1 in 1,000 women are in menopause before age 30
  • 1 in 100 women are in menopause before age 40 (premature menopause)
  • 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 women are in menopause before age 45

On the other end of the age spectrum, 1 in 20 women won’t enter menopause until after age 55.

But even though a specific age doesn’t cause menopause, age and menopause can affect aging.

Low Estrogen Affects Aging After Menopause

Studies have shown that menopause can have a 6% increase in cellular aging. A group from UCLA followed up on 3,100 women who participated in the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) study–the one that set out to find the risk vs benefits of taking estrogen–and by studying changes in those women’s DNA they determined that the cells of women who had transitioned into menopause had greater aging changes in their DNA.

Dr. Steve Horvath, a genetics and biostatistics professor at University of California Los Angeles also found that women who went into menopause because they had their ovaries removed (surgical menopause) and who took estrogen, had younger or restored cells compared to women with surgical menopause who did not take estrogen.

Poor Sleep Affects Aging After Menopause

Poor sleep is one of the most common complaints of women in perimenopause and menopause. And poor sleep is not only a cause of tiredness. It also contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, brain fog and the subject of this article–aging.

In a separate study from UCLA, Judith Carroll published an article in the journal Biological Psychiatry.  Menopausal women who did not get enough sleep to feel rested, woke up tired, got up multiple times at night, had difficulty falling asleep and waking up too early all had evidence of increased cellular aging.

The Menopause Symptoms–Aging Connection

These two studies help to explain a lot about how menopause affects aging. Hot flashes, waking up to pee, restless sleep due to anxiety or depression are much more than inconveniences–they are contributing to aging at a faster rate.

So toughing out menopause symptoms is not a good idea. Yet today, roughly 70% of women receive no treatment for their menopause symptoms and only about 5% of menopausal women are taking estrogen. Finding the right treatment for you is very important and is why talking with someone to understand the benefits and risks of each treatment option is not a luxury–it’s essential.

That is particularly true for women who enter menopause at a younger age, as the first study above shows. For instance, a 42 year old women who enters menopause and does not take estrogen would biologically be a full year older at age 50 than a different 50-year-old woman who continued to produce estrogen and entered menopause naturally at age 50 because of low estrogen’s affect on cell aging.

As explained in easy-to-understand language in the best-selling book The Estrogen Fix, not taking estrogen can also contribute to thinning of the bones and osteoporosis, and an increased risk of heart disease.

The Bottom Line

Menopause is not about age; it’s about transition. But untreated menopause symptoms can speed up aging by 6%. And treatment of menopause symptoms may slow down the aging process, particularly if estrogen is taken. If you would like to discover if menopause coaching will help you in your menopause journey, visit

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