What is premature menopause?
Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40 - whether it is natural or induced. Premature menopause can be the result of genetics, autoimmune disorders or medical procedures. Here are some other conditions that may cause early menopause.
Premature ovarian failure or POI (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency). The average age for women to reach natural
menopause, the cessation of periods, is about 50. Some women, however, go through menopause in their 40s and some, as early as their 20s and 30s. For most women, the diagnosis of premature Menopause (also known as Premature Ovarian Failure) is a shattering experience. Many younger women who are diagnosed with POF have not had the chance to make a decision about having children and find that opportunity denied to them. Normally, the ovaries produce both estrogen and testosterone. Changes in the levels of these two hormones occur when the ovaries, for unknown reasons, prematurely stop producing eggs. When this happens before the age of 40, it is considered to be premature ovarian failure. Unlike premature menopause, premature ovarian failure is not always permanent.
Induced menopause. "Induced" menopause occurs when the ovaries are surgically removed for medical reasons, such as uterine cancer or endometriosis. Induced menopause can also result from damage to the ovaries caused by radiation or chemotherapy. Menopause happens most dramatically as the result of surgical intervention, namely a hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy where both ovaries are removed. Sometimes this is called TAH/BSO, or total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Salpingo refers to the fallopian tubes which connect the ovaries to the uterus. In the case of a hysterectomy, where only the uterus is removed and the ovaries maintained, there will be some confusion about when menopause occurs because of the absence of a period. When the uterus is removed (hysterectomy) and the ovaries remain, menstrual periods stop but other menopausal symptoms (if any) usually occur at the same age that they would naturally. However, some women who have a hysterectomy may experience menopausal symptoms at a younger age.
Premature menopause can be confirmed by blood tests to measure the levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The levels of these hormones will be higher if menopause has occurred. Because premature menopause is often associated with other hormonal problems, women who have premature menopause should be screened for diabetes, thyroid disease, and similar diseases.
There is no treatment to reverse premature menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can prevent the common symptoms of menopause and lower the long-term risk of osteoporosis. Women who have premature menopause should take HRT. Estrogen relieves the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, including the hot flashes and the vaginal dryness. Estrogen is especially important for women who go through premature menopause. The long-term health risks of menopause (osteoporosis and increased risk of heart disease) are even more likely to occur after premature menopause. However, women who have certain medical conditions (like liver disease, uterine cancer, or breast cancer) may not be candidates for estrogen. If a woman still has her uterus after premature menopause, she will also need to take progesterone along with the estrogen. If her uterus has been removed, estrogen alone will be enough. Women who wish to become pregnant after premature menopause now have the option of fertility treatments using donor eggs. This is similar to in vitro fertilization, but the eggs come from a donor instead of the woman who is trying to become pregnant.
More information on menopause
What is menopause? - Menopause is a stage of the human female reproductive cycle that occurs as the ovaries stop producing estrogen, causing the reproductive system to gradually shut down.
When does menopause occur? - Most premenopausal women experience changes in their menstrual cycle. Perimenopause is the phase before menopause actually takes place, when ovarian hormone production is declining and fluctuating, causing a host of symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of menopause? - The symptoms of menopause can be divided into early and late onset symptoms. Early symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, and mood changes. Late symptoms include vaginal dryness and irritation, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
What causes menopause? - Menopause occurs when the ovaries are totally depleted of eggs and no amount of stimulation from the regulating hormones can force them to work.
What is premature menopause? - Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40 - whether it is natural or induced.
What is perimenopause? - Perimenopause is the stage of a woman's life before menopause. The perimenopause is a normal period of transition between the childbearing years and menopause.
What is postmenopause? - Postmenopause is the time when most of the transitional stress of menopause has passed. Since postmenopausal women produce less estrogen, there are some symptoms that they might experience.
What are the treatment options for menopause? - Treatments for menopause can be divided based on those symptoms that are present in a given woman at a specific time. The standard of treatment for menopausal symptoms is replacement of one or both of the major female hormones.
What is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)? - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment for women who have reached or passed menopause, which often is referred to as "the change of life."
What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy? - The benefits of hormone replacement therapy include controlling menopause symptoms, preventing heart disease, preventing osteoporosis, preventing some hard-to-detect female cancers.
What are the risk factors for hormone replacement therapy? - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) risks and possible side effects include increased risk of cancers, blood clots, gallbladder disease, and heart attack or stroke.
What hormones are used in hormone replacement therapy? - The menopause is associated with a relative lack of oestrogens and progestogens. Replacement therapy always requires oestrogens, which are given continuously.
How is hormone replacement therapy taken? - There are many ways of taking HRT, including a daily tablet, skin patches, a small pellet or implant under the skin, a gel applied daily to the skin, or a nasal spray.
What is natural hormone replacement therapy? - Natural hormone replacement therapy (NHRT) is a combination of human estrogens and natural human progesterone.
What are herbal remedies for menopause? - Some women take herbal, natural, or plant-based products to help their symptoms. Wort and chasteberry may help some women with depressed mood.
What is estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)? - Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) is therapy to replace estrogen no longer made by a woman's body because she is post-menopausal or her ovaries have been damaged or removed.
What menopause diet is suggested? - Eating right can definitely ease the various discomforts of menopause including hot flashes, bloating and mood swings.