Menopause is defined as the point in a woman's life when she has stopped menstruating for at least one year (the period of time leading up to this point is called perimenopause). There are a number of factors that affect a woman's age at menopause, but one carries more weight than any other: the age your mother was when she went through it.

If your mother and other close female relatives had an early or late menopause, it's likely that you will too. But there are some mitigating factors that can affect the timing of your change.

Lifestyle Choices and Environmental Factors That Can Affect Onset of Menopause

  • Your mother's age at menopause is a key factor, but if you smoke, it's likely that you will reach menopause earlier than your mother did.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Ovarian surgery
  • Ethnicity. Hispanic and African-American women reach menopause a bit earlier, and Chinese and Japanese women a little later, than the average Caucasian woman, who reaches menopause at the average age of 51.5.

5 Healthy Habits to Help Manage Menopause Symptoms

Genes don't count much when it comes to menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes or night sweats. You can, however, try a few lifestyle changes to manage some of the worst symptoms, although the research behind how and why lifestyle changes affect menopause isn't definitive.

Here, five habits to keep symptoms in check:

1. Eat healthy. Eating a balanced diet can give you energy and protect your health. Limit alcohol or caffeine, which can affect sleep.

2. Quit smoking. In addition to causing many serious health conditions, smoking may trigger hot flashes, weaken bones, and can irritate your bladder, which may become more sensitive during menopause.

3. Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity helps keep your weight down, improves your sleep, strengthens your bones, and elevates your mood.

4. Try stress reduction techniques. If you do them regularly, stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga can help you cope with your symptoms more easily.

5. Lose weight. Losing extra pounds might help with hot flashes, according to one recent study. It's also a good idea for your overall health and well-being.

Sharmila Kumari Makhija, MD, reviewed this article.


Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Menopause." Last
modified November 25, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Women's Reproductive Health: Menopause"
Last modified November 25, 2013.