Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Here is a health alert! The mean age of menopause in women in Odisha has dropped to 40 years from 45 years a half decade ago.

This lowering of the biomarker bar in women in the State assumes significance, when the early onset of menopause signals the likely triggering of the mid-life diseases in women like osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. More so, such re-setting of the bio-clock need to be watched closely as early menopause has the potential to trigger breast cancer.

Reports are coming from across the State over women experiencing the perimenopause symptoms in late 30s, and it was observed that the average menopause onset age in Odisha has dropped down to 40 years, informed Dr PC Sahoo, former CDMO here. He added that the mean age in Odisha was around 45 years during the year 2015. "There is nothing to panic. What is essential is one has to learn the ways to manage the vital phase in a woman' s life. There is need for increased intake of calcium, vitamin D and micronutrients to keep osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases at bay." he observed.

Though no rural-urban divide has been noticed, most doctors blame the early onset of menopause in the State on changing food habits, increased stress and work culture.

Do stress, food habits and work culture play a trigger-role? An earlier National Family Health Survey study had outlined food habits (poor nutritional value), multiple parity (women who had multiple deliveries) and poor economic condition as the agents that lower the bio-marker bar in women.

The NFHS study has listed the risk factors like smoking, alcohol intake etc as also responsible for Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) in women. However, some independent experts also blame on increased use of contraceptives behind early menopause and POF.

But a 2016 study of Indian Menopause Society (IMS) didn't find any significant co-relation between abortion, contraceptive use with that of POF, though with a caveat that the study has limitations as the conclusions were based on interviewers' statements, where there is every possibility of women not disclosing such vital inputs.

The same study finds early menopause in unmarried and nulliparous women (married women who have had no children) across India, including Odisha.

How to sense the re-setting of bio-clock?  As per doctors, a woman in late 30s when witnesses irregular periods has to undertake a blood test to ascertain the FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) level. If the FSH found is greater than 25mIU/L, then this indicates the POF.

What is Menopause and Perimenopause? While medical science defines menopause as absence of menstrual periods for 12 months, Perimenopause symptoms are described as setting in of irregular periods that even extend up to six months.