Does Smoking affect my Menopausal Transition?
Yes, it does!
Smoking promotes an earlier menopause. Smokers start having perimenopausal symptoms one to nine years earlier than non-smokers. The earlier you experience menopause, the more health risks you are exposed to later in life. They can also have more intense symptoms than non-smokers. Evidence suggests that this link is reversible and the earlier a woman quits, the less likely she is to be affected.
Smokers, in general, have lower estrogen levels. There are three suggested mechanisms for this:
- Polycyclic hydrocarbons found in cigarettes can destroy ovarian germ cells and can cause premature ovarian failure.
- Chemicals found in cigarettes such as nicotine prevent the conversion of androstenedione to estrogen.
- Smoking disturbs the messaging from the brain to the ovaries via the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. It can delay the LH (luteinising hormone) surge, preventing ovulation and interrupting the menstrual cycle.
Smokers also have:
- Increased risk of breast cancer (by 19%).
- Increased risk of lung cancer (85% of all lung cancer is due to smoking).
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Increased susceptibly to mood disorders such as stress, anxiety and depression.
- Increased risk of diabetes as it promotes insulin resistance and inflammation. In fact, smokers are 30-40% more likely to get Type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
- Increased risk of premature aging. Smoking can make your skin drier with less elasticity. Most smokers develop more wrinkles and more lines around their mouth, increased pigmentation, greyish skin tone, discoloured fingers, and yellow teeth.