Oophorectomy or not. It comes as a shock to learn that Indian women may be advancing towards menopause far too early in life. Working professionals or not, the late ’20s or ’30s is fertile years for women across the world. With women taking their time to plan and conceive late during their mid-30’s in recent times, early menopause may come as a shocker to most Indian women.
A PAN India survey by the Indian Menopause Society (IMS) shows that the average age for women to attain menopause is 46.2 years, which is already lesser and earlier than the women in the Western parts of the world who face the signs of menopause at the age of 51 years on an average. Another survey carried out by Indian District Level Household Survey (DLHS) in 2007-2008 shows that 1.5 per cent of women hit menopause before their 40’s in India.
However, the PAN-India survey conducted in 2009, by Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) has brought to light that about 4% of women experience the signs of menopause between the ages of 29 and 34 and, 8% between the ages of 35-39 years. This survey was conducted among 1,00,000 Indian women between the age group of 15 to 50 years across 26 states.
Why are Indian women experiencing the signs of menopause at the early age of 27-29?
The ’20s are the prime years of women’s life when they plan for marriage and prepare to go the family way. Having divulged a distressing fact as such, it is natural to worry and speculate the causes of the untimely onset of menopause during the marriageable or child-bearing age for most women in India. Many research, survey and doctors have suggested various reasons for the cause of early menopause among Indian women.
Medical factors: Early motherhood, hysterectomy, autoimmune diseases such as mumps, pelvic tuberculosis, thyroid disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis may trigger early menopause among women. Cancer survivors are at a higher risk of facing premature menopause because of treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Some of the doctors believe that the increasing use of artificial reproductive techniques and the stress related to that may be one of the reasons for premature menopause among women.
Genetic factors: Doctors suggest that heredity factors play an important role in the onset of early menopause among women. Women whose mothers’ may have gone through early menopause might face premature menopause naturally.
Socio-economic factors: Surveys conducted in the urban cities, towns, and rural areas of India state that menopausal disorders are more prevalent among rural women with no formal education in comparison to educated women mostly in urban areas. Menopause is perceived as a taboo among most of the communities in the country and women seldom are vocal about it. The women in the communities where parities may still prevail among the lower and backward castes and communities, have been ignorant about the changes in their bodies and are kept in the dark about menopause. Being equipped to face the adverse effects of premature menopause, care for their uterine health or even speaking about their conditions may not even be their priority. Therefore, lack of knowledge and education among women across the rural landscape may be one of the reasons for the onset of early menopause. Creating awareness of menopausal disorders among middle-aged women, and suggesting interventional programmes would be of great benefit for their healthful life.
On the other hand, educated urban women may be better aware of the changes that happen during menopause and the remedies that might help them. This enables them to take care of their uterine health and get talking about their life-changing menopausal phases with their doctors to get the necessary menopausal treatment at the least if not talk about it with their family, friends, and community.
Farming, poverty, lack of nutrition and motherhood before the age of 16 years may be the potential causes for premature menopause among women in India.
Lifestyle factors: The everyday routine, altered food habits, change in work culture, the living environment, habits and more contribute to the lifestyle factors that cause early menopause among women. Work-related stress, alcohol consumption, eating processed and refined foods that are high in fat, sugars and carbohydrates, lack of exercise, smoking is some of the lifestyle choices that may have led to premature ovary failure and hence the early onset of menopause among women at the age of 27-29 years in India. With some changes to lifestyle and a strong focus on uterine health, Indian women may improve their health and wellbeing.
Signs and remedies for early menopause are many.
Whatever may be the reasons for premature ovarian failure or early signs of menopause among Indian women, the symptoms of menopause remain the same irrespective of the age one might go through menopause. There are about 34 symptoms of menopause such as Hot flashes, vaginal atrophy, insomnia, sweating, hair thinning, bone loss, skin, and vaginal dryness, and more. Hormonal therapies including estrogen therapy may be immediate thought for remedy.
However, most health practitioners recommend women to go natural and make lifestyle changes as remedies for menopausal treatment and better health. Natural plant-based supplements like Femarelle are some of the remedies to alleviate the signs of menopause. They may even prevent women from further atrophies like loss of bone mass, thinning of vascular tissues or vaginal lining that could lead to severe cardiovascular issues, osteoporosis condition, cancer, and others. Supplements like Femarelle tablets contain B Vitamins, fermented soy, and Omega 3 from flaxseed along with other minerals and antioxidants that may help balance the hormonal activity among menopausal women.
Improved living conditions, sufficient nutrition, knowledge, education, wholesome meals and lifestyle changes are vital to improve women’s health and cause awareness about menopause among women in India. Most of all, if an increased number of women could boldly step out of their comfort zone to open the dialogue and start conversations about menopause, it may commence the menopause revolution in India.