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  • Writer's pictureGrace Health

Early Or Premature Menopause What is it?

Updated: May 18, 2023

Just like how impossible it was to escape puberty menopause too will come. But generally, we expect to see it in our early 50s or late 40s but what happens when it comes much earlier? In your 40s. Does it mean that there is something wrong? Is it an underlying condition?

This blog post will break down what early menopause is and what the symptoms are. Let’s find out.

In this article:

What is menopause?

Menopause is a normal part of a woman's life. It occurs when your periods stop permanently. You are officially in menopause when you haven’t had any bleeding, including spotting for more than 12 months. Typically most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Early menopause usually refers to onset before age 45. Premature menopause occurs before age 40.

What are the symptoms of early & premature menopause?

Many of the causes of premature menopause can also be causes of early menopause. Most symptoms of early menopause are similar to those of normal menopause:

  • Mood swings

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Changes in cognition and memory

  • Hot flashes

  • The diminished desire for sex

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Weight gain

  • Night sweats

  • Vaginal pain during intercourse

What causes early or premature menopause?

Anything that damages your ovaries or stops your body from making estrogen can cause menopause. Some causes of early or premature menopause are:

  • Family history of menopause at an early age.

  • Chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer.

  • Surgery that removes your ovaries.

  • Surgery that removes your uterus (hysterectomy).

  • Getting your first period before age 11.

  • Chromosomal abnormalities like Fragile X or Turner’s syndrome.

  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or thyroid disease.

  • Smoking cigarettes.

  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

  • Having HIV or AIDS.

  • Infections like mumps.

  • Sometimes there’s no cause of early or premature menopause. This is the case in up to 50% of women.

Can I delay early menopause?

While there is no clear evidence that changing behaviour can delay menopause, some factors increase your risk of early or premature menopause:

  • if your period started at 11 years old or earlier

  • a family history of early menopause (this increases your risk by up to 12 times)

  • smoking

  • epilepsy

  • previous ovarian surgery

Can I still get pregnant?

For some women who experience early menopause (for example, due to Primary Ovarian Insufficiency POI), there is a small chance that the ovaries will spontaneously start functioning again. For these women, there is a 1 in 10 chance that a natural pregnancy is possible.

The takeaway

Premature and early menopause describe menopause that happens before it’s expected. Premature menopause happens before age 40. Early menopause is reaching menopause before age 45. Talk to a healthcare provider if you’re under 45 and have signs of menopause like irregular periods, spotting between periods, hot flashes or vaginal dryness. The doctor can order blood work and discuss your health history to help diagnose these conditions.

Stay informed, stay in control Did you learn something?

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1 Comment

Feb 26

Early or premature menopause refers to the onset of menopause before the age of 40, which can significantly impact a woman's physical and emotional well-being. This condition may result from various factors, including genetic predisposition, autoimmune diseases, or medical treatments like chemotherapy. Unlike natural menopause, which typically occurs around the age of 50, early menopause can present unique challenges, such as fertility issues and an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and medications like Vagifem can help manage symptoms like vaginal dryness and hot flashes, addressing the emotional aspects of early menopause through support groups or therapy is equally crucial in navigating this unexpected life transition.

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