The Reason Kate Walsh Isn’t Having Kids
Kate Walsh revealed in a new interview that she’s not going to have children because she went through early menopause. (Getty Images)
“I’m not going to have kids. I went through early menopause. That happened,” Walsh said on SiriusXM’s Conversations with Maria Menounos Wednesday.
The 48-year-old actress, who says her sister went through early menopause as well, says the condition is becoming more common for women. “Who knows why,” she added. “It could be a product of our environment, The Pill, we don’t know.”
According to the National Institute on Aging, the average woman experiences menopause at age 51. When it happens before age 40, it’s considered early menopause.
Women who go through early menopause have the same symptoms as “regular” menopause — hot flashes, the loss of monthly periods, mood changes, vaginal dryness, and a decreased sex drive — they just experience them earlier than most women.
Related: ‘I Am Now In Menopause’: Angelina Jolie Reveals
About one to two percent of women go through menopause before the age of 40, Jason James, MD, medical director at Miami’s FemCare Ob-Gyn, tells Yahoo Health, and five percent go through menopause before age 45.
While Walsh has gone through menopause before the age of 51, she may not have gone through “early menopause” by the clinical definition, Petra Casey, MD, an ob/gyn and associate professor at the Mayo Clinic, tells Yahoo Health. “If somebody is 48, that just means she’s a little ahead of the curve,” she says.
But both James and Casey say early menopause isn’t becoming more common. “There have been a lot of large, longitudinal studies that have found the average age of menopause is consistent at age 51,” James says. “We’re seeing a lot of girls getting their period earlier, but we haven’t seen any good data to say that women are going through menopause earlier.”
Early menopause (aka “primary ovarian insufficiency”) can be brought on by medical treatments like chemotherapy or surgical removal of the ovaries or uterus, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports. It can also be caused by autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
But the largest risk factor is genetics. “When women ask me about when they’ll go through menopause, I always tell them to find out when their mom went through menopause,” James says. “If she went into menopause at 42, then the likelihood that you’re going to go through it earlier is fairly likely.”
Related: 9 Weird Things That Can Trigger Early Menopause
Lauren Streicher, MD, an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and author of “Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever” tells Yahoo Health that The Pill doesn’t play a role: “It has nothing to do with birth control pills.” Streicher says The Pill might camouflage symptoms in women who have early menopause, but it doesn’t actually cause it.
While genetics plays a large role, there are some things women can do to lower the chances they’ll go through menopause early.
The first is to avoid smoking and second-hand smoke. On average, smokers go through menopause two years earlier than non-smokers, and second-hand smoke is also associated with early menopause, James says.
Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding significant weight loss is also important, since James says there is an association with having a low BMI and early menopause.
If you suspect that you’re going through early or earlier-than-average menopause, see your doctor to be sure. “There are a lot of things that can mimic menopausal symptoms,” James says. “It’s good to get a proper diagnosis.”
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