above average again

a month ago i was in vienna, i don’t even have to count the days because despite being 51years and 7 months old…that’s the interval since my last period. i was curious what the oldest age for a woman still having a period…you know the oldest recored menopause because i thought the average age was 50….

In the Western world, the most typical age range for menopause (last period) is between the ages of 45 and 55 and the average age for last period is 51 years. In some developing countries however, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, the median age of natural menopause is considerably earlier, at 44 years.

In the Western World, a woman’s last period occurring between the ages of 55 to 60 is known as a “late menopause”. An “early menopause” is defined as having the final period somewhere between the age of 40 to 45.

 okay…..so that officially puts me above average, so i googled it and found some interesting tidbits~~~

A study from Norway showed that the older a woman stops menstruating permanently, the longer she lives.

A woman is born with about four million eggs. Each month, a single egg ripens and pops into the uterus and 10,000 eggs deteriorate until she finally runs out of eggs and goes into the menopause. A North American woman goes into the menopause at the average age of 52. Women who go into menopause later than that are at somewhat increased risk for breast cancer, presumably because increasing the duration of exposure to estrogen increases breast cancer risk. However, estrogen does good things also. It thickens the bones, skin and vagina, protects blood vessels and improves mood, and this latest study shows that women who go into menopause later than age 52 live longer than those who go into menopause earlier.

Age at natural menopause and all-cause mortality: A 37-year follow-up of 19,731 Norwegian women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2003, Vol 157, Iss 10, pp 923-929. BK Jacobsen, I Heuch, G Kvale. Jacobsen BK, Univ Tromso, Inst Community Med, N-9037 Tromso, NORWAY

that’s the good news~~~

Studies consistently have indicated a link between later onset of menopause and increased breast cancer risk. Reports show that women who go through menopause after age 55 have twice the risk of breast cancer as women who experience menopause before age 45.

To understand why women who begin menopause later in life are at a slightly elevated risk of developing breast cancer, one must understand the role of estrogen. Estrogen alone does not cause cancer. The hormone, estrogen, is an essential part of a woman’s physiology. However, estrogen’s principal function is to speed the process of cell proliferation. Therefore, estrogen can increase the chance of a mutation occurring and/or encourage the growth of cancerous cells once they appear.

The more estrogen a woman is exposed to during her lifetime, the greater the opportunity for the hormone to promote the growth of a tumor. The reason why women who go through menopause later in life are at greater risk of developing breast cancer is because these women have had a longer lifetime exposure to estrogen.

that’s the bad news….i thought this was an interesting hypothesis even though wikipedia says it is not well supported with research …

The grandmother hypothesis is an informal hypothesis meant to explain why menopause, rare in mammal species, arose in human evolution and how a long post-fertile period could confer an evolutionary advantage.

G.C. Williams was the first to posit that menopause might be an adaptation. Williams suggested that at some point during evolution, it became advantageous for females to stop “dividing [their] declining faculties between the care of extant offspring and the production of new ones” (p. 408). Since a female’s dependent offspring would die as soon as she did, he argued, older mothers should stop producing new babies and focus on the offspring they already had. In so doing, they would avoid the risk of dying during childbirth and thereby eliminate a potential threat to the continued survival of current offspring.

i think this is perfectly reasonable, supports my theory that 60 year old women should not be going to clinics in italy to get pregnant..of course i am no where close to being a grandmother ….

Alternatively, the debilitating symptoms that usually accompany menopause in Western cultures could be seen as a natural cull of non-reproductive members of a species. Hot flashes, loss of short term memory, decreased ability to concentrate and difficulty in the learning of new tasks would, in the wild, leave the sufferer at greater risk from predators and topographical dangers such as falls from a height. This natural cull would leave more food, usually in relatively short supply, for the reproductive members of a species whose youth could mean that they are less experienced at finding it. However, cross-cultural studies of menopause have found that menopausal symptoms are quite variable among different populations, and that some populations of females do not recognize, and may not even experience, these “symptoms” (Melby). This high level of variability in menopausal symptoms across populations brings into question the plausibility of menopause as a sort of “culling agent” to eliminate non-reproductive females from competition with younger, fertile members of the species.

The grandmother theory appears to work because species continue to recognize, value, and therefore protect, closely related members of their species who would otherwise fall to predation. Only with this protection is the grandmother available to take a mentoring and supportive role.

i don’t particularly enjoy being described in the same paragragh as the word “cull” however….natural or otherwise~~~

if i never have another period after today, which seems highly unlikely as i still haven’t missed one single month yet….i will still be 52 and 7 months when i officially enter the green pastures of “the menopause”. scarily close to either living longer or being at high risk of breast cancer depending how you look at it.

all i can say is that my new motto….the more you do, the more you can do seems to be working as i have been really busy and in fact worked at home today from 8am-5.30pm (except for the 45 minutes when i had to lay down).

 i sent my first group email to about 100 people, got it wrong the first time but succeeded on my second try. had an urgent teleconference where my boss won an disagreement over something that he wanted to change and the londoners were opposed to.

i’m off to london on weds and thursday for another round of meetings, so all in all everything is going well…if only mother nature would have mercy…..

7 thoughts on “above average again

  1. I was 51 years and 6 months when I had my last period. That’s now one year and just over one month ago…there’s hope for you.

    Officially, they say, if you’re period free for a year, then you’re post-menopausal. I was reading about all that just before my year was up, desperately trying to find out if it would mean an end to hot flashes. Not necessarily! The info I found said one could expect to remain symptomatic for anywhere from two months to two years after the period-free year has passed. Still, I seem to be symptom free at the moment…I’ve got all kinds of other weird symptoms, but I don’t think they have anything to do with menopause!!!

  2. 1 TMI mother!
    2 I havent had one in almost a year.
    3 you are a nurse and you didnt know that bit about living longer?
    4 oh shit maybe that means i’ve got one foot in the grave already!

  3. Interesting to me.. Ya I have an aunt who is living very long..also a late menopauser..no breast cancer as of yet.. I also wonder if when you START your period has anything to with anything… and if it’s genetic..like if when mama went through menopause means anything for you..

  4. Why are you so worried about your menopause? Just be happy and enjoy life. I had my last period when I was 58 although it was very erratic in the last year. I was very healthy until my accident. Have regular check-ups and you will be fine. It is probably genetic.

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