Holiday Get-Togethers Offer Time for Generations to Discuss Menopause

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • We’re getting closer to the holiday season when families will be coming together to celebrate. Besides enjoying the food and festivities, this time of year also would be a good time for mothers and daughters to sit down and have The Talk. This particular talk is about menopause, which can have far-reaching consequences. And it’s an important conversation to have, whether you’re a 45-year-old woman going through menopause or a 24-year-old woman who thinks that time of life is a world away.


    Let’s start with women who are making this life transition. What will your menopausal experience be like?  In her book, The Menopause Bible: The Complete Practical Guide to Managing Your Menopause Dr. Robin N. Philips suggests checking your family tree for hints. “How did the women in both your mother’s and your father’s family experience menopause? Did they sail through it without noticing? Or did they have a tough time?” Dr. Phillips asks, adding that the experience of previous generations may suggest what you may encounter.

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    Those stories may vary. "One of my patients said to me, ‘My mother always told me the best years of her life started after menopause and therefore I looked forward to it and never had a single problem,’” Dr. Christiane Northrup, who wrote Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, told MSN.com’s Sarah Klein. “Another told me, ‘My mother told me this is the worst thing that can ever happen to you and I'm terrified.' "


    While there are some obvious ties to heredity, there also are some lifestyle choices that can influence a woman’s menopausal transition. Therefore, don’t assume that if your grandmother had a terrible menopausal experience, you will also have that type of transition.


    Age of Menopause and Daughter’s Fertility Level


    So while you’re together, you also may want to talk to your daughter about menopause. Why? Because new research has found an association between the age when a mother goes through menopause and her daughter’s fertility.


    This study out of Denmark focused on 527 women between the ages of 20-40 who were health care workers. These women were placed into one of three groups. The first group had mothers who went through menopause before the age of 45, which is considered to be an early menopause. The second group had mothers who reached menopause between the ages of 46-54, which is considered normal menopause. The third group had mothers who experienced a late menopause, which meant they went through this transition after they turned 55.


    During the 18-month study, researchers regularly checked the level of a specific hormone called anti-Müllerian hormone as well as a count of antral follicles, which contain immature eggs. According to Natural Medicine Journal, Müllerian hormone testing has been used to assess egg quantity.


    The Danish researchers’ analysis, which took into account the younger women’s age, contraceptive use, body mass index and smoking, found a link between the amount of change in hormone levels and follicle count experienced annually by younger women and when their mothers went through menopause. Specifically, the researchers found that the average hormone level declined by 8.6 percent and the antral follicle count dropped by 5.8 percent for women whose mothers went through early menopause annually. Young women whose mothers went through a normal menopause experienced a 6.8 percent decline in the hormone level and a 4.7 percent decline in follicle count annually. Finally, young women whose mothers went through a late menopause saw their hormone level drop by 4.2 percent and their antral follicle count decline by 3.2 percent annually.


  • "Our findings support the idea that the ovarian reserve is influenced by hereditary factors,” said Dr. Janne Bentzen of Copenhagen University Hospital, who led the study. “However, long-term follow-up studies are required.”

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    Bentzen, J.G., et al. (2012). Maternal menopause as a predictor of anti-Müllerian hormone level and antral follicle count in daughters during reproductive age. Human Reproduction.


    Klein S. (nd). Will you have your mother’s menopause?  MSN.com.


    Natural Medicine Journal. (n.d.) Assessing egg quantity with anti-Müllerian hormone.


    Phillips, R. N. (2005). The Menopause Bible: The Complete Practical Guide to Managing Your Menopause. New York: Firefly Books.

Published On: November 08, 2012