The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Posted by on Sep 3, 2008 in Meditation/mindfulness therapy, stress, women's health | 1 comment


A friend wrote to me recently and mentioned that a clinical psychologist had told her that she is seeing more and more patients who are entering early menopause. The cause? Apparently, stress has something to do with it.

Another myth to debunk? Or is there something to this?

I found two studies in the American Journal of Epidemiology whose findings appear to suggest a role for stress in predicting an earlier age at menopause. Yikes!

In the first study, published in 1997, researchers sought to identify factors that might determine age at which menopause would start. They studied the effects of demographics, reproduction history, number and length of stressful events (i.e. those occurring within the last 6 months and those lasting longer than 6 months) and other health factors. 185 women were studied for approximately 8 years.

The findings showed that earlier age at menopause was associated with women reporting irregular menstrual periods in their 40s, who smoked, were African Americans or on diets. More importantly, however, stress predicted earlier menopause in both women who were African American and in women who reported having irregular periods.

In the second study, published in 2007, French researchers examined the potential role of occupational factors in determining the age at which a woman started menopause.  Using several statistical models, the results showed that among the 1,594 women studied, earlier age of menopause was associated with having a high-strain job and difficult schedules. Additionally, earlier menopause was associated with smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day.

Taken together, these data, in more than 1,600 women, show that there are indeed, certain factors that play a role in prompting an earlier menopause. Stress clearly has a part to play.

I’ve written previously about stress and its role in menopausal symptoms, as well as steps that can be taken to lessen stressors in our daily lives.  They include yoga, acupunture, reiki, deep breathing exercises, and of course, meditation.

While we might not be able to alter the course of history, we might be able to insure that the path is a bit smoother going forward. In this particular situation, being an early bird is indeed, a good thing for years that follow.

One Comment

  1. 9-3-2008

    oh boy. i am guilty, guilty and guilty. (but not so young)

    ok, need to work on the mind body stuff a bit more.

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