Signs of Pre-Menopause
The average age for women to experience natural menopause is their early 50s. The rare condition of premature menopause happens before age 40.
“I can’t be going through menopause! I’m too young!”
Maybe you’ve missed a period or two. Maybe you’re experiencing some unusual symptoms. Maybe you think you’re having a hot flash.
If so, it’s time to talk to your doctor. These situations could lead to a variety of diagnoses. Premature menopause, while rare, could be the culprit.
What is Premature and Early Menopause?
Premature and early menopause are conditions in which a woman experiences menopause at an earlier age than expected. Both conditions can result in being unable to become pregnant. If there is no clear medical or surgical cause for premature menopause, this is referred to as primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Early menopause occurs between ages 40 and 45 and affects about 5 percent of women. Premature menopause, which is menopause occurring before age 40, affects around 1 percent of women.
When Does Normal Menopause Occur?
Menopause is happening if you’ve gone a full 12 months with no menstrual period. At that point, your ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones that maintain menstrual cycles and fertility. Menopause ceases naturally for most women around age 51. Menopause may be induced early for life-saving reasons such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. However, in some women, genetic conditions, autoimmune disorders or unknown reasons may bring about menopause.
The symptoms of menopause range from annoying to serious, spanning from disrupted sleep to hot flashes, dry eyes, mood changes and weight gain. But experiencing these symptoms in your 20s, 30s and early 40s might make you feel like you’re growing old overnight and aging faster than your friends.
Unfortunately, the signs aren’t always clear for premature or early menopause. Changes in mood can happen for different reasons. Maybe you’ve felt a hot flash. Maybe not. What exactly is a hot flash? A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and is usually most intense around the face, neck and chest.
What Causes Premature Menopause?
Causes for premature menopause include some medical conditions or treatments. Often the cause may not be known. Possible factors that could contribute to premature menopause include:
- Surgery to remove the ovaries
- Side effect from chemotherapy or radiation
- Family history of early menopause
- Medical conditions including chromosomal abnormalities and autoimmune disorders
- Certain infections like the mumps
Symptoms of Premature Menopause
Premature menopause shares many of the symptoms of normal menopause including:
- Hot flashes (sudden warmth that spreads over the body)
- Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
- A pressing need to urinate more frequently
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability, mood swings, mild depression, worsening anxiety
- Dry skin, dry eyes or dry mouth
- Breast tenderness
- Racing heart
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Weight gain
- Hair loss or thinning
How is Premature Menopause Treated
Treatment for premature menopause can vary depending on the causes. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often recommended to women with premature menopause barring a medical reason not to. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the safety of hormone therapies. But many of the risks of hormone therapy after natural menopause do not apply to women with premature menopause. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of hormone therapy with your doctor.
If early menopause is something you’re worried about, we are here to answer your questions. It’s never too early to ask questions. Missing periods can be a sign of other health concerns, such as heart disease, dementia, MS and osteoporosis.
If you are in early or premature menopause, you may need extra time and support to come to terms with your diagnosis and the consequences, including the potential long-term health impact and loss of fertility. Sharing your concerns with your partner, friends and your health care provider or psychologist can help. Understanding what is happening to your body and what you can do about it is key.
Contact us today if you have any questions.Tweet