Do You Age Faster After Menopause?

Scientists have revealed that menopause makes women age faster. According to a new study, women who entered menopause at 42 appear older physically by age 50 than women who entered menopause at 50. This discovery puts to rest the question: Do you age faster after menopause?

According to one of the scientists, Prof. Steve Horvath, a geneticist at the University of California, this discovery has conclusively addressed the question of whether menopause causes aging or aging causes menopause. This research also revealed that women who suffer from insomnia after menopause physically appear to be more than two years older than those who do not experience insomnia.

But how exactly does menopause make you age faster? We want to address this question and any other issue related to menopause and aging. However, we need to first understand what menopause is and how it affects the body.

What Is Menopause?

In simple terms, menopause is the natural end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This cessation of the menstrual cycle marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. As you enter menopause, your body goes through many changes, including a sharp decrease in the production of estrogen and the disappearance of your monthly periods.

Menopause is considered a normal part of a woman’s life when it occurs after 40 years. But it can occur earlier than that, causing premature menopause. Early menopause can occur due to damaged ovaries or a hysterectomy (surgical removal of ovaries). Some of the most common effects of menopause include vaginal dryness, emotional changes, dry skin, increased urination, insomnia, and more.

How Menopause Makes You Age Faster

According to Prof. Horvath, menopause accelerates cellular aging by approximately 6%. He adds that although this estimation doesn’t sound alarming; it tallies up over time. As part of their recent study, Horvath and his fellow scientists acquired DNA samples from over 3,100 postmenopausal women and analyzed them by examining methylation–a biomarker associated with aging.

The study revealed that women who induce premature menopause by surgically removing their ovaries before 50 years are biologically older than women who enter menopause naturally. It was also apparent that the hormonal changes which occur when a woman reaches menopause tend to accelerate biological aging. Fundamentally, this discovery could imply that women who enter menopause at an early age face the risk of suffering from age-related complications, or even early death.  

Menopause has long been known to reduce estrogen levels in women. This hormone is important for keeping your skin hydrated and elastic. So, when your body stops producing estrogen, your skin will lose its thickness, become dry, and develop wrinkles, which leads to making you appear older.

Estrogen hormones are largely responsible for keeping a woman’s skin looking and feeling soft and smooth. Even as you approach menopause, these hormones help to stimulate the production of oil in the skin in order to keep it elastic, smooth, and thick. So, as the level of estrogen in your body decreases due to menopause, your skin becomes dry and rough.

Prof. Horvath and his team also discovered that women who received hormonal replacement therapy after menopause had much younger cells than those who did not. He was optimistic that this finding could help researchers find drugs to help minimize the effects of menopause, adding that researchers will no longer have to follow their patients to track their health and susceptibility to diseases. Instead, they will just monitor their cell’s aging rate to determine which hormonal therapy can help in slowing their biological aging process.

This study was published on July 25 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is our hope that this information has helped you understand why you are likely to age faster when you reach menopause.