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Menopause, Your Mom, and You

The genetic bond you share with your mother affects everything from the color of your hair to the color of your language. The genetic makeup you share with your mother can reveal a great deal of health-related issues and answers, especially regarding the age at which your mother entered menopause.

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The Good News
Be it early or late, it's true that you are likely to enter menopause at about the same age as your mother. The good news—for some—is that studies suggest this is the only aspect of menopause that is hereditary. Women who remember their mothers bursting into tears because they couldn't find their shoes or cursing while breaking household items over something trivial need not fear. While the emotions you experience may be similar to your mother's, the intensity of your menopausal symptoms compared to hers is not genetic. In other words, don't let the recollection of your mother's experience terrify you of what is to come.

On the other hand, if Mom sailed through her menopause with nary a symptom, you can only hope that you'll be so lucky.

Thanks to medical research, we know more about menopause now than ever before. Studies have shown, for example, that only 1% of women experience a natural menopause before they turn 40; this is known as premature ovarian failure. Another 5% of women go through early menopause, which is before the age of 45. The average age of menopause is 51.

There are steps you can take on your own that can help ease symptoms when they occur. Maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and identifying and eliminating hot-flash triggers are great ways to lessen the intensity of menopausal symptoms.

It is also important to remember that the memory of your mother's menopausal experience is not coupled with a thorough understanding of the condition, as you may have been younger when she was going through menopause. The fact that you're taking the initiative to seek a deeper understanding of the subject means you will be much more knowledgeable and researched on menopause and its symptoms than your mother was when it comes time for you to experience it.

Additional Factors
There are more factors involved other than just genetics that can have a bearing on when a woman enters menopause. For example, women who smoke or live at high altitude are more likely to enter early menopause. Autoimmune disorder, and in some cases even surgical procedures, can prompt early menopause as well. There are no known ways of delaying menopause, although your doctor can prescribe ways to help ease the symptoms that come with it. To read about these methods in more detail, visit our section on Clinical Treatments and Therapies.

Menopause is not the end of an engaged life, and it should not be feared or dreaded. After all, menopause is not an illness, but a biological process that all women must go through. Don't fear it. Rather, embrace it, knowing that your body is in tune with nature and its process. ♀

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