Information regarding breastfeeding and menopause

(Last Updated: Aug 25, 2010)


The age at which a woman is expected to reach her menopause is anywhere between 44 to 55 years. The average menopausal age in most women is around 51 years. However, the actual age at which a woman may reach her menopause differs a great deal, from one woman to another. There are a number of factors that can influence the age as well as the occurrence of menopause in a woman. These factors include race, family history, any pre-existing medical conditions as well as the number of children that the women has given birth to, along with how long she has spent, breast feeding or taking birth control pills.

The more amount of time that a woman spends breastfeeding, the later will she be likely to reach menopause. Therefore, pregnancy as well as breastfeeding can delay the occurrence of menopause in a woman to some extent. All women have a finite number of graafian follicles that are present in their ovaries, which are genetically determined. When the stock of the follicles is exhausted, at the end of a woman's reproductive life, menopause occurs. On average, girls have around 2 million primary follicles at birth. When a girl reaches puberty, (around 12 years old), the number of primary follicles she has, will have reduced to 300,000. Because of degeneration, several follicles are lost and there only around 500 follicles that develop into graafian follicles. As a girl continues to grow into a woman, more of these primary follicles are lost.

Therefore, at the age of 25, the number of primary follicles present in a woman's body falls to 60,000. Furthermore, a 40 year old woman will have approximately 8,000 such follicles. However, this calculation works for women who menstruate regularly, every month. In case a woman does not menstruate for any reason, the number of follicles in her ovaries will be higher. Factors like pregnancy as well as breastfeeding, can delay the menstruation cycle for months, or even years, because of which the stock of follicles builds up. Taking birth control pills could also affect one's menstrual cycle, which has the same affect. Therefore, menopause can get delayed in women who have taken birth control pills, or have been through multiple pregnancies and have nursed their babies for longer periods of time. While menopause can be delayed by women, through breastfeeding, it is quite possible for surgical menopause to occur at any time, if the uterus is removed through a surgical procedure.

answered by G M


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