Age at Menopause : Do Chemical Exposures Play a Role ?

Environmental Health Perspectives, Charles W. Schmidt, June 2017

With its associated hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia, menopause can be a challenging period in a woman’s life. But as much as it marks the end of her childbearing years, menopause—and more specifically the age at which it occurs—can also reflect on a woman’s overall health. An older age at menopause typically reflects good health overall, whereas early menopause—generally defined as occurring before age 40—can reflect poorer health and a greater likelihood of premature mortality.

Now, experts are taking a closer look at how environmental exposures may influence age at menopause and whether exposure-induced changes in menopausal timing put women at greater risk of associated health problems. These are early days in the field, but recent research suggesting a link between potential endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) and early menopause has raised concerns over how exposures might accelerate hormonal processes involved in female aging.

“We know that going through menopause early increases the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and other disorders,
so the long-term health implications of early menopause are considerable.”

says Natalia Grindler, a reproductive and endocrinology fellow at the University of Colorado’s Advanced Reproductive Medicine Division.

There is still much to be learned about the toxicology underlying changes in age at menopause, and isolating chemical effects from the other varied influences that govern when a woman’s reproductive years come to an end is challenging. Nevertheless, this area of study provides a new window on population-level effects from chemical exposures that could have wide-ranging consequences.

continue reading Age at Menopause : Do Chemical Exposures Play a Role ? on Environmental Health Perspectives, by Charles W. Schmidt, 12 June 2017.


  • Mechanisms of Menopause
  • Variations on Normal
  • Assessing the Evidence
  • A Search for Mechanisms

Download the full PDFImage credit © V. Benakis.

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