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Delaying menopause now possible, but at what cost?

A new surgical procedure could delay menopause by up to 20 years, according to CBS News. It’s already been performed on 10 British women, ranging in age from 22 to 36 — by doctors in Birmingham, England.

menopause

The surgical procedure removes a portion of the woman’s ovaries and the tissue is then cryogenically frozen. When the woman approaches the age of menopause, doctors thaw and reimplant the tissue, which restores the patient's younger, natural hormones, according to the report.

The procedure has the capacity to reduce the symptoms of menopause — hot flashes, increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and others — but researchers don’t know what the long-term effects might be from such a surgery. It could potentially change a patient’s cancer risk or cognitive function — but no one really knows.

Menopause is not a disease, but nature's way of signaling the end of your child-bearing years. When you stop having your periods naturally — usually when you're around 50 years old — the slowdown is usually gradual. 

The typical range for menopause is 45 to 55 years of age. Perimenopause is the transitional phase leading up to menopause and can last as long as 8 to 10 years.

Sometimes menopause occurs before or shortly after age 50. If you have your ovaries or uterus removed, you'll skip the "peri" part and advance straight to full-blown menopause, causing symptoms to intensify because there's no gradual downshift — estrogen and progesterone production simply stops.

Symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes 
  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Depression, mood swings 
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats

The best preventive way to counter these symptoms is with a nutritious diet and exercise.  Implementing a regular exercise regimen will optimize your insulin levels and balance your estrogen levels. Estrogen levels are much lower in women who eat nutritiously and perform strenuous physical work, which is routine in certain locales.

In addition to diet and exercise, there are other safe and natural options to soothe menopause symptoms and help balance your hormones, such as essential oils. Clary sage, geranium, lavender, pine and rose are potent, natural alternatives that have been shown to balance female hormones during menopause.

For women with breast cancer who are taking estrogen-lowering drugs — called aromatase inhibitors — acupuncture has been shown to help significantly reduce menopausal symptoms. The drugs, which lower estrogen, often lead to significant menopausal symptoms including joint and muscle pain, hot flashes and night sweats.