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Will Hard Exercise Cause an Early Menopause?

Vigorous exercise and very hard work can cause some women to miss periods, but it will not cause an early menopause.

The only known causes of early menopause are smoking, drinking heavily, being severely malnourished and having severe wasting disease. Each woman is born with around 4 million eggs in her ovaries, two round glands located deep inside of her belly. Each month, usually only one egg is released from the ovaries and it travels into the uterus. If it is not fertilized, it is lost forever. Around one thousand eggs deteriorate each month. Eventually, at the average age of 52, a woman runs out of her viable eggs and she stops menstruating forever.

A normal menstrual cycle starts when the brain produces a hormone called FSH. It stimulates the ovaries to produce the principal female hormone called estrogen which causes the inner lining of the uterus to thicken and estrogen also causes one dominant egg to ripen. At around the 12th day, the ovary releases this dominant egg which travels into the uterus. The spot on the ovary that released the egg then produces a second hormone called progesterone which prepares the uterus for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, the blood vessels to the thickened inner lining of the uterus close down and the entire inner lining is shed with the bleeding. When a woman runs out of eggs, there is no spot to produce the progesterone and a woman stops menstruating permanently.

Checked 7/12/16

June 10th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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