Early menopause may be caused by several factors including genetics, lifestyle and medical treatment. But studies also show it may come from exposure to everyday chemicals.
The average age for menopause is 51. When a woman experiences menopause before age 40, it is called early or premature menopause, according to MedicineNet.com.
Here’s a list of eight things you might not have thought could cause early menopause. Some come from chemicals you are exposed to every day.
The everyday chemicals that were associated with causing early menopause included several polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, phthalates (chemicals used to soften plastic) and even a toxic chemical called furan.
Dr. Amber Cooper, from the obstetrics and gynecology department at Washington University, led a study which found that such exposure can make menopause occur up to four years early.
Cooper and her team analyzed blood and urine samples of more than 31,000 women to see if various chemicals were present. Women who on average had the highest levels of these chemicals experienced menopause between 1.9 years to 3.8 years earlier than women who had lower levels.
Here is where these everyday chemicals can be found.
1) Personal Care Products and Fragrance
Prevention Magazine said that products which come in soft plastic containers such as body wash, lotion and shampoo contain phthalates. It’s especially true if they contain fragrances.
2) Candles and Air Fresheners
Phthalates were found in 12 out of 14 air fresheners tested in 2011 by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Candles that contain synthetic fragrances may also contain phthalates.
3) Plastic Food Storage Containers
These items which are made of flexible plastic contain phthalates, wrote Prevention. In addition, the food that comes in plastic jars or food packaging like frozen meals, margarine and yogurt, could contain phthalates.
4) Dairy, Fish and Meat
Since 1979, nine PCBs have been banned in the United States, but they’re so embedded in the air, land and water that animals are still exposed to them. These PCBs still make their way into the bodies of animals, and our own.
5) Non-organic Fruits and Vegetables
Many of these are sprayed with toxic pesticides, said Prevention.
Why these chemicals may lead to early menopause isn't exactly known. Cooper said that more studies are needed to better understand the relationship.
If you smoke, that habit can cause menopause to occur one to four years earlier.
7) Being Underweight
When a body has more fat, it also has a higher estrogen supply. Menopause starts when the estrogen supply nears its end. If a woman’s estrogen supply is already low because she’s underweight, early menopause may happen.
8) Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune disorders attack and destroy healthy body tissue by mistake. The immune system may not realize it is attacking a woman’s ovaries instead of a harmful disease. Something like this can stop ovulation and cause early menopause.
Bianchi, Jane. "9 Things That Could Make You Start Menopause Early." Prevention. Web. 4 May 2015.
Dr. Beltsos, Angeline. "Menopause in Your 30s: Nine Things That Can Age Your Ovaries." The Huffington Post. Web. 4 May 2015.
Park, Alice. Web. 4 May 2015.
"Premature Menopause: Click for Symptoms and Causes." MedicineNet. Web. 4 May 2015.
Reviewed May 8, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith