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“I’m Too Young for Menopause!” — Signs of Early Menopause

“I’m Too Young for Menopause!” — Signs of Early Menopause

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s reproductive life cycle, one that has life-changing implications. During this time, usually between the ages of 45 to 55, a woman will undergo many physical and hormonal changes. After menopause, women will no longer have their period or be able to get pregnant. And with this change comes increased risks of osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke. For this reason, women experiencing signs of menopause should seek treatment and/or preventive care. But why do some women go through menopause early?

Who Experiences Early Menopause?

Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but the perimenopausal period can begin much earlier. Some women may begin to notice the things changing in their bodies as early as their mid-30s. Also, about 1% of women in the United States experience menopause before the age of 40. Menopause between the ages of 41 and 45 is called premature menopause.

Premature menopause may be associated with radiation exposure, chemotherapy, or smoking. In some cases, surgical menopause can also occur. This occurs in premenopausal women after removing one or both ovaries or after irradiating the pelvis, which contains the ovaries. This leads to sudden menopause. These women often present with more severe signs of menopause than if they experience it at a later age.

What Are the Signs of Menopause at an Early Age?

Women can begin to experience an irregular menstrual cycle even years prior to the last menstrual period. If the cycle is irregular, consult your doctor to investigate possible causes. Signs of menopause at an early age are similar to the symptoms of menopause, including:

  • Hot Flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urgent need to urinate more frequently
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Mood swings
  • Mild depression or anxiety
  • Tenderness in the breast
  • Dry skin, dry eyes or dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Concentration problems, memory loss (often temporary)
  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Hair loss or thinning hair
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in libido (sexual desire)

Causes of Early Menopause

1. The Ovaries Stop Functioning

Premature menopause can occur spontaneously when a woman’s ovaries stop producing normal levels of certain hormones, especially the hormone estrogen. This is sometimes called early ovarian failure or primary ovarian failure.

The cause of early ovarian failure is often unknown, but in some women it may be due to:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities in women with Turner syndrome
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Certain infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and tuberculosis, but these are very rare.

Primary ovarian insufficiency can occur in families. This can be the case if one member of the family has menopause at a very young age (20 or 30 years).

2. Cancer Treatments

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause early ovarian failure. This can happen temporarily or permanently.

The risk of premature menopause depends on:

  • Your age
  • The type of treatment received
  • Which part of the body the radiation therapy is directed to (if you receive radiation therapy around the brain or pelvis, you are at an increased risk of developing premature menopause)

3. Surgery to Remove the Ovaries

Surgical removal of both ovaries also causes premature menopause — for example, having the ovaries removed during a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus).

Treatment of Early Menopause

There is no cure available to reactivate the ovaries. In rare cases, the ovaries may function spontaneously again for unknown reasons. According to some studies, about 1 in 10 women diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) become pregnant for reasons that are not yet clear.

Women with premature menopause are at increased risk of health problems such as early osteoporosis and heart disease. For this reason, it is advisable to take some hormone therapy until you reach the typical age of menopause (about 51 years). This could be an oral contraceptive or menopausal hormone therapy (HRT) that combines estrogen and progestogen.

Both options treat the signs of menopause and reduce the risk of early-stage osteoporosis and heart disease.

Getting Support

Experiencing menopause early can be upsetting and difficult. Permanent premature menopause affects the ability to naturally give birth. Some of the common problems women face are:

  • Being sad about the prospect of having no children
  • Fear of getting older in advance
  • Problems with self-esteem

Even with premature menopause, it is still possible to have children through donated eggs from another woman using IVF. Alternatively, you can save and use your own eggs. Surrogacy and adoption may also be options.

Most importantly, support and counseling groups may be helpful. Consult your doctor for advice on your condition and access to support.

Learn more about Menopause here.

Ovulation Calculator

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Menopause, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397, Accessed October 7, 2021

Early menopause, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/early-menopause/, Accessed October 7, 2021

Premature and early menopause, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/premature-and-early-menopause, Accessed October 7, 2021

Premature and Early Menopause, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21138-premature-and-early-menopause, Accessed October 7, 2021

Introduction to Menopause, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/introduction-to-menopause, Accessed October 7, 2021

Menopause Can Start Younger Than You Think: Here’s What You Need To Know, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/18/797354824/menopause-starts-younger-than-you-think-heres-what-you-need-to-know, Accessed October 7, 2021

Menopause, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/menopause, Accessed October 7, 2021

 

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Written by Fred Layno Updated 2 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran