A recent large study indicates that women who go through menopause later may have a somewhat longer life expectancy.
The researchers took more than 12,000 Dutch women and followed them for 17 years. These women are then instructed to complete questionnaires on their medical and reproductive histories and smoking habits. The analysis of these women indicate that the life expectancy crept up with each year menopause was delayed. At the extreme, women who went menopause after 55 years lived on 2 years longer than the women who had their last menstrual cycle before 40. The increase in life expectancy was largely related to a lower risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
In the same study, it was observed that smoking seems to promote earlier menopause. Smoking is one of the most important determinants of age at menopause. The study findings further affirm that women should give up the habit of smoking as it can have serious effect on their life expectancy also.
Some other factors which can contribute to earlier menopause include a previous history of irregular menstrual cycles, having none or one child, and having a large gap between first and second child.
Overall, the researchers found, for each year a woman’s menopause is delayed, her risk of death, adjusted for age, dipped by 2%. In particular, the risks of death from heart disease and stroke fell as age at menopause rose — even when accounting for age and factors such as smoking, body weight and high blood pressure. However, it is a known fact that before menopause women generally has a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, due to the protective effect of estrogen. The risk climbs after menopause. It depicts a protective effect of estrogen on heart and blood vessels.