The onset of menopause is a normal biological process that takes place within a woman's reproductive organs. Late onset occurs in women who have not experienced menopause by the age of 55. While the symptoms of late onset menopause are similar to those experienced typically, there are certain health factors to consider.
Just as every woman’s body is different in terms of monthly cycles and accompanying symptoms, the onset of menopause can also vary from person to person. The average age of onset is between 50 and 55 years of age, according to Intimate Medicine, a women’s health resource website. Late menopause can occur any time after that. It’s not uncommon for a woman to experience menopause around the same time of life that her mother did. Factors that can influence late menopause onset include the number of childbirths, dietary habits and contraceptive pill use.
Menopause marks a significant change in how a woman’s body produces hormones, according to the Women’s Health Channel. Estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones most affected. These levels begin to decline years before actual menopause sets in. Over time, the ovaries produce less and less of these hormones, causing menstrual cycles to become irregular. Late menopause means the body continues to produce oestrogen and progesterone at somewhat normal levels for an extended amount of years.
The official onset of menopause doesn’t occur until six months to one year after a woman’s final menstrual cycle with no bleeding in between, according to the Women’s Health Channel. In actuality, a final menstrual period lasting one day in duration marks the beginning of menopause. This process occurs naturally as the reproductive organs lose their ability to carry out their regular functions, though certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or a hysterectomy, can bring about early onset.
The symptoms that accompany late onset menopause are the same as those that accompany early or normal onset. According to CNN Health, menopause symptoms are caused by diminishing levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body. Menstrual periods that are shorter or longer than usual, night sweats, problems concentrating, hot flashes and thinning hair are all signs of late menopause. Once menopause arrives, the body still produces some oestrogen; however, the decrease in levels may be enough to warrant medical treatment if symptoms are severe, according to the Women’s Health Channel.
Health effects can vary in cases of late onset menopause as ongoing oestrogen secretions can have good and bad effects on the body. Ongoing oestrogen production may have protective effects in terms of maintaining existing bone density and healthy blood vessel function. Adverse effects of prolonged oestrogen secretions include an increased risk of developing uterine, breast or ovarian cancer. Cancer risk is associated with how oestrogen stimulates cell growth in the body. Malfunctioning cells may continue to grow and reproduce rather than dying off, which is how cancer growths get started.