0800 840 1628 • Monday - Friday 9am - 6:30pmContact Us
We all know that smoking negatively impacts our health in different ways. Conditions such as cancer, lung disease, heart disease and strokes can all be directly linked to smoking. Studies have also shown that smoking can trigger the early onset of menopause and considerably worsen symptoms and lead to osteoporosis after the menopause.
In this article, we take a closer look at how smoking can affect the menopause and how symptoms are often worse for smokers. We will also look at what support is available to help you to quit.
A number of studies have taken place to understand the link between smoking and early menopause. It is generally agreed that smoking is more likely to bring forward the onset of menopause 18 months earlier for women who smoke compared to those who don’t. This could be up to three or four years earlier for heavy smokers. Reports have also shown that passive smokers (i.e. women who live with smokers and breathe in their secondary cigarette smoke) are also more likely to go through an earlier menopause than non smokers.
Nicotine disrupts the conversion of androstenedione (a hormone within the body) to oestrogen which results in a dip in oestrogen levels, thus triggering early onset menopause.
Decreasing levels of oestrogen are linked to the symptoms of menopause, which means not only can smoking cause an early menopause, it can also intensify the symptoms.
Smoking can definitely make the menopausal experience worse. The nervous system takes a hit every time you smoke a cigarette, and while smoking might make you feel more relaxed, the negative impacts it is having elsewhere are manifold.
Studies have shown that smoking can intensify menopause symptoms, resulting in more freqeunt and more severe hot flushes. Below, we take a look at the common symptoms of the menopause and how smoking impacts each one.
One of the most unpleasant symptoms of the menopause (also referred to as perimenopause) are hot flushes. Studies have identified that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of hot flushes as a result of decreasing oestrogen concentrations in the body.
Difficulty sleeping is a problem many women face during the menopause. The hormonal changes as a result of a dip in oestrogen levels affects your brain and your body’s rhythms which includes your sleeping patterns. Nicotine’s effect on the nervous system and oestrogen levels amplifies these hormonal changes making it even harder to maintain good sleeping patterns.
Low oestrogen levels can cause dry skin with less elasticity. It can also cause thinning hair. Most women going through the menopause will notice a change to their skin and hair anyway, but if you’re a heavy smoker on top of that, the effects are likely to be much worse.
Hot flushes, lack of sleep and hormonal changes can affect even the most positive of people. Mood swings are a normal and understandable part of the menopause. You may feel that a cigarette helps when you’re feeling low, but as it directly affects the nervous system, the nicotine high you get can then swing the other way, leading to negative emotions.
As mentioned above, smoking may seem to have a calming effect, but actually it is exacerbating your anxiety levels due to nicotine’s impact on the nervous system. This means your next bout of anxiety may be more acute and you’re likely to feel anxious more frequently.
Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and will have immediate positive effects. Within 48 hours carbon monoxide is removed from the body and your oxygen supply improves significantly. You will find you have more energy, fewer mood swings and are able to cope with anxiety better. You will notice your skin and hair start to improve too. If you quit smoking before your reach the menopause, you will reduce the risk of early menopause too.
The good news is it’s never too late to stop smoking, and there are many resources out there to help you on your journey to a smoke-free life. Here at LiveWell Dorset, we have helped a lot of people to quit smoking and we would love to help you too! The Stop Smoking section of our website features lots of useful tips, links and articles, such as Stop Smoking Support - who can help?
If you live in Dorset, we even have specialist LiveWell coaches who will be with you every step of the way, helping you identify your triggers and how you can overcome them. For more information, register or contact us today, and if you need further inspiration, check out how our LiveWell team helped Lisa to kick the habit.
You can download the NHS Quit Smoking App or contact their smoke free telephone helpline on 0300 123 1044, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.
You can also visit the NHS website for more information on services in your area to help you quit smoking.
The British Menopause Society website can help you find a private or NHS menopause specialist in your area.
Some women find that counselling or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can help with symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. If you live in England and are over 18, you can access NHS psychological therapies (IAPT) services directly, without a referral from your GP.
Smoking is not a cheap habit. The cost of smoking has increased by nearly 100% over the past 10 years. Quitting today means you could save approximately £1,800 a year. A 20-a-day smoker can save up to £4,000 a year. With the cost of living rocketing up, the money you have saved really will make a big difference!
Your search has returned 105 more resultsView all results