If My Mother Had A Difficult Menopause, Will I Have A Difficult Time, Too?

This question is difficult to answer definitively because bad‚ or difficult‚ are subjective evaluations. Heredity does play a large role in the menopause. A good rule of thumb is that if your mother had an early menopause, it is likely that you will, too. However' there are other factors to take into account.

For example, if your mother smoked cigarettes, her menopause may have been accelerated by as much as five to ten years.

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The reverse is true, too: If you smoke and your mother did not, your menopause may occur earlier than hers did. The age at which you had your first period, however, is not believed to determine the age at which you will experience menopause.

In addition, your life-style compared to your mother's, your body build, and your unique life stresses may be contributing factors to the ease or difficulty of menopause.

For example, at the average age of menopause, in our early fifties, we are dealing with many other significant changes in our lives. Our children are leaving home or have left, we may become grandparents for the first time, our own parents may be ill and in need of our care, and our work and home duties may change in other important ways. With divorce claiming one out of two marriages, a more recent development is that many more of our children are returning to the nest as single parents, bringing their children with them.

For the growing number of women who have delayed childbearing until their late thirties and forties, dealing with teenage offspring when menopause occurs can be replete with its own set of problems.

The way in which our culture regards aging may affect symptoms as well. For example, women in the Rajput class in India, where aging is rewarded as a time when women may join the men in positions of power and rule-making, menopause may be welcomed and the symptoms disregarded. In a youth-oriented culture such as ours, aging may be dreaded and symptoms may be experienced as being bothersome and embarrassing.

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