Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when ovaries stop releasing eggs and estrogen levels drop. It usually occurs gradually over a period of time known as perimenopause. This natural part of aging comes with many side effects and normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Some women go through this change of life earlier. Let’s dive into what you should know about premature menopause.
Causes for Early or Premature Menopause
It is considered to be premature menopause when it happens to women younger than 40. It may be caused by certain surgeries, medicines, or health conditions.
Family history: If a woman has a family history of premature menopause, it is more likely to happen to her.
Smoking: Women who smoke are likely to go through menopause as much as two years earlier than non smokers, and they may suffer more severe symptoms.
Chemotherapy or pelvic radiation treatment for cancer: This can cause damage to the ovaries and cause the ovaries to stop working completely or temporarily. It might be hard to get pregnant. However, the younger a woman is at the time of the treatments makes it less likely she will go through menopause.
Hysterectomy or the removal of the uterus: If the ovaries are not removed, you will no longer have periods or be able to get pregnant, but the ovaries will continue to produce hormones. You may have menopause a year or two earlier than normal.
Certain medical conditions can cause premature menopause including the following:
- HIV and AIDS
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease
- Women with missing chromosomes like Turner’s Syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Symptoms of Premature Menopause
Typical symptoms include hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness. In addition, expect weight gain, less desire for sex, night sweats, pain during intercourse, frequent urge to pee, headaches, and dry skin. They are much like the typical menopause symptoms, just occur before age 40.
If you have not had a period for 12 straight months, you are in menopause.
Risks From Premature Menopause
Women who spend more years without estrogen can be at higher risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, and several neurological conditions like dementia and Parkinson’s.
Talk with South Bay OBGYN about treatments for premature menopause to relieve some of the symptoms.