For most women, one of the eventual things that come with aging is menopause. It’s it an inevitable thing that happens later in life that there isn’t any getting around. Unfortunately, for other women for a number of reasons, may end up with premature menopause.
What causes early menopause? What are the signs of early menopause? Are their risk factors to consider when early menopause occurs? In this article, we’ll take a look everything you need to know about premature menopause causes, risks, and treatments. If you might be suffering from early menopause, this article should have you prepared for what’s to come.
What Is Premature Menopause?
For most women, menopause begins in their fifties. It signals the end of menstruation, and the end of a woman being able to conceive children. With early menopause, due to various factors, menopause has begun before the age of forty. While it is early, it is still menopause complete with all of the symptoms and issues that come with regular menopause, with some other possible complications.
Signs of Premature Menopause
Early menopause, unfortunately, tends to come with all of the trappings of regular menopause—just at a much earlier point. There are a number of early menopause symptoms that are early signposts for the fact that early menopause may be arriving.
1. Lower hormone levels
One of the signs that menopause is on its way, or is in the midst of menopause, is that hormone levels become low or erratic. Decreased estrogen production from the ovaries, low testosterone, and low levels of estrogen—especially when happening around the same time—can all be signs of early menopause.
2. Irregular periods
The first and most important sign of menopause are periods that become unpredictable both in their timing and in the amount of flow.
3. Hot flashes
One of the most common symptoms of early or regular menopause is hot flashes. These are sudden changes in the body’s temperature that can cause heat and sweat for the sufferer.
4. Night sweats
This symptom is very similar to the aforementioned hot flashes. A sudden change in the body that causes sweating, but in this case, usually occurs at night during the woman’s sleep cycle.
5. Mood swings
Due to the change in hormones and body chemistry that occurs during menopause, mood swings can occur due to this.
6. Lack of libido
Another symptom connected with the change in hormones is a lack of a sex drive during the menopause period.
7. Vaginal dryness
During menopause, the walls of the vagina can become thinner and lose some of their elasticity, which may cause pain during sexual intercourse.
These are the most common first signs of early menopause, but there may be others. While uncommon, you may also experience joint pain, water retention, and hyperthyroidism while starting into early menopause.
Causes of Premature Menopause
Unfortunately, there tends to be a number of causes of early menopause. These reasons can include natural situations for the body to begin menopause early, as well as medically-induced reasons why the menopause has begun.
1. Premature ovarian failure
Essentially, the ovaries stop producing eggs and stop hormone production. This could be due to autoimmune disorders or genetics.
The removal of female reproductive organs will usually cause early menopause due to the severe interruption of hormone production that this causes.
A number of diseases and infections like the mumps and tuberculosis can cause issues with the female reproductive system that can lead to early menopause.
4. Tubal ligation
Tubal ligation is also known as tubectomy, or in common slang, “getting your tubes tied.” This is the surgical process of where a woman’s Fallopian tubes are blocked, sealed, or severed—preventing the eggs from going to the uterus for implantation.
Risk Factors and Complications of Premature Menopause
When it comes to premature menopause, there are a large number of risk factors and complications that it can cause. Fertility is obviously one of the complications, but from that, the difficulty and inability to have children can often lead to depression and mental issues. Another major one is osteoporosis. Women with lower estrogen levels tend to be at risk for low bone density to begin with. However, if you suffer from early menopause, you will have lower estrogen levels for a greater space of your lifespan, making the risk of osteoporosis greater.
Once it has begun, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to reverse or stop early menopause from finishing what it started. With that being said, being prepared for these complications can help and there are a few early menopause treatment options that may help out during this period of premature menopause.
Treating Premature Menopause
While early menopause can come with a number of health and mental issues there are some treatments that can help ease many of the symptoms that come with early menopause.
As previously noted, early menopause can be the start towards osteoporosis due to the lower amount of estrogen that the woman would be producing for a greater period of time. For this reason, it’s recommended that women suffering from early menopause up their calcium intake via either diet or supplements.
2. Emotional support
Due to changing hormone levels, women suffering from early menopause can have mood swings that can be unpredictable. If the affected woman is also feeling depressed due to the loss of fertility, this can make for a particularly horrible combination. Having a good emotional support system during this time can be a very beneficial thing.
3. Healthy living
One of the ways to help minimize the effects of the various complications of early menopause is to try and live a fairly healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and sleep. Try to keep smoking and alcohol down to a minimum. All of which are good suggests any time but in the case of early menopause, they can be an extra benefit. A balanced diet and exercise can help with the various chemical imbalances. Smoking and alcohol can often exacerbate depression so they are to be avoided during the menopause period.
4. Hormone therapy
Hormone therapy can also be a useful tool with early menopause, as it will help ease the transition in terms of the chemical imbalance within the woman. In a weird coincidence, one of the prescriptions given may be for birth control pills as a way of controlling hot flashes and irregular periods.
As you can see, there are ways to treat the various symptoms that come with early menopause. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to face these issues without help.
Premature Menopause Can Be Controlled
Early menopause is an unfortunate thing that will happen to a lot of women before they are ready. The main key to dealing with it is to know that you have options. There are early menopause risks and concerns, but the treatments for those issues are fairly available and just require you to talk to a doctor.
Conrad Stöppler, M., “Premature Menopause,” MedicineNet, May 16, 2016; http://www.medicinenet.com/premature_menopause_medical_procedural_causes/page2.htm#what_causes_premature_menopause
“Premature Menopause,” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/premature-menopause-symptoms#1
“Early Menopause,” 34 Menopause Symptoms, http://www.34-menopause-symptoms.com/early-menopause.htm