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The Shocking Downside For Women Who Are Ultra Slim
The risks of being too thin
Being a skinny teenager may sometimes result in a woman being reed slim into her 30s or 40s. A new study has suggested that underweight women are at a high risk of experiencing early menopause.
If you weigh 112 pounds or less, and are not more than 5ft 5inches tall, then you are considered to be underweight.
Underweight does not actually cause menopause, but research has shown that the risk of early menopause is much higher in these women.
The study also indicated that the chance of early menopause is 56% higher among women who were underweight at age 35, and 51% higher among those who were underweight at age 18.
Those who are underweight have a 30% chance of hitting menopause earlier than usual.
What exactly is early menopause?
Early menopause is best defined as naturally ceasing to have periods before the age of 45.
As a rule, symptoms of normal age-range menopause begin between the ages of 50 to 55, and only when there has been no menstruation for 12 consecutive months, is menopause deemed to be complete.
The symptoms of early menopause are exactly the same as those for typical menopause, and may include:
- Mood swings, vaginal dryness, and low libido.
- Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, night sweats,
- Behavioral and memory changes.
- Weight gain and pain during intercourse.
Note that women who undergo early menopause may have a higher risk of chronic illness later in life. These include stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, and dementia.
Estrogen therapy may help protect you against certain types of these illnesses, but hormone replacement therapy (HRT) also often comes with some serious side effects.
Ask your doctor about estrogen therapy.
How being too thin may relate to early menopause
There are several theories about how being underweight contributes to early menopause, but the jury is still out on that one. The consensus of opinion among the medical fraternity is that more research is required before a firm relationship can be established.
However, thanks to intensive studies conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, some factors have come to light which may indeed link underweight women to early menopause. The factors center mainly on the theory that thinner women have lower estrogen levels than women of normal weight.
The theory is that since estrogen is produced by the fat tissue in the body, the less fat tissue you have, your body may not produce the level of estrogen you need. If your estrogen levels are already low, early menopause can be precipitated.
Menopause usually begins when estrogen levels begin to fall in women in their late 40’s or early 50’s. When this happens in a younger woman, studies have shown that her fertility may start to decline much earlier than expected.
There is further evidence that very slim women may have fertility issues in much the same way that women who are very overweight do.
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Other conditions which can increase the risk of early menopause
Being super-slim is not the only condition that can contribute to early menopause. There are other issues as well – some medical and some lifestyle.
Here are a few of the most common issues:
- Studies have linked eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia to the earlier onset of menopause.
- A British Medical Journal study showed that smokers, or even passive smokers, may also go through menopause one or two years earlier than those who are smoke free.
- Autoimmune disease causes malfunction of the immune system and begins to attack body tissue, which may possibly include the ovaries and estrogen receptors, putting them prematurely out of operation.
- The biggest issue which can lead to immediate menopause and post-menopause, is to surgically remove the ovaries. This can be as a result of a severe condition such as endometriosis, ovarian cancer, or a serious infection of the ovaries from a sexually transmitted disease.
- Women who are heavy drinkers may find that their periods become irregular to the extent that they eventually completely stop. This can also lead to early menopause, due not so much to alcohol damage, but more because of a poor diet and poor nutrition which affects the hormonal system.
- Women who live under continuous stress conditions, especially those who are under constant economic hardship, are 80% more likely to suffer early menopause. This somewhat unusual revelation is a result of a study conducted by the Boston University School of Public Health.
Research has shown that early menopause risks need to be taken seriously, and the implications for a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as other health issues, should be discussed with a medical professional.
More research needed
Although some causes of early menopause may be obvious because of medical issues, there is also evidence that you really can be too thin which may have an impact on the timing of early menopause.
However, more research is needed to establish just exactly how being underweight increases the risk of early menopause.