Menopause is the phase in a woman’s life when she stops having menstrual periods for more than 12 months. Usually, menopause occurs at the average age of 51, but did you know that some women have menopause much earlier? When this happens, women who should be at the height of their birthing years might have problems getting pregnant.
What is early menopause?
Menopause before the age of 40 is premature or early menopause. This sometimes happens due to certain diseases, genetic factors or surgery.
Premature ovarian failure, where the ovaries stop functioning normally before the age of 40, leads to it. This affects 1 out of 1000 women aged 15 to 29 and 1 out of 100 women aged 30 to 39. This may be due to certain genetic or inherited factors such as autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease, viral infection, hormonal disorders, and eating disorders.
Treatments for cancer and other conditions also lead to early menopause. These involve chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the pelvis that damage the ovaries. Surgery that removes the ovaries or the uterus results in premature menopause as well.
Drugs, chronic diseases, pituitary and hypothalamic tumors, psychiatric disorders and other rare or undefined conditions can also bring it about.
What are the symptoms of early menopause?
Just like women experiencing natural menopause, women with early menopause experience the following symptoms:
- Irregular or missed periods;
- Heavier or lighter periods;
- Hot flashes.
These happen when the ovaries are producing less estrogen. In effect, these symptoms will also occur:
- Vaginal dryness;
- Bladder irritability and loss of bladder control;
- Mood swings and mild depression;
- Dry skin, eyes or mouth;
- Decreased sex drive.
How do you know you have early menopause?
Your doctor may do a physical exam and blood tests to check if you have premature or early menopause. Your doctor may also measure your levels of estradiol, which is a form of estrogen, an indicator of whether your ovaries are starting to fail. Estradiol levels below 30 may point out that you are in menopause.
The blood test that measures your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is better at indicating if you are in menopause or not. FSH signals your ovaries to produce estrogen. As your ovaries slow down its estrogen production, your levels of FSH increase. FSH levels of more than 40 mIU/ml, usually mean you are in menopause.
Unfortunately, early menopause increases your risk for certain medical conditions such as osteoporosis, colon and ovarian cancer, gum disease, tooth loss, and cataract formation.
What are the treatments for early menopause?
There are ways to treat and relieve the symptoms of early menopause. These include:
- Hormone therapy;
- Oral contraceptive pills;
- Antidepressant medications;
- Non-hormonal vaginal gels, creams, and lubricants;
- Assisted reproductive technology.
It is important you talk to a competent reproductive specialist to discuss your treatment options, especially when dealing with early menopause and infertility. Dunya IVF Clinic has IVF specialist doctors who can provide you with answers and solutions such as egg donation and other treatments. If you feel you have early menopause yet you hope to have a baby, contact us here.