Menopause can begin at any time, and it can come as quite a surprise, especially to women who don't fall into the typical age range. The average age of the onset of menopause is somewhere between 48 and 53, but sometimes it can start much earlier, even before the age of 40.
The technical term for this is early menopause, and it can be a devastating and unexpected change for younger women. If you're going through this stage at a unusually young age, you can ease the burden through knowledge and prevention strategies. Read on to learn more about the differences between early menopause and menopause.
What Is Menopause?
During menopause, your body goes through a lot of changes, and these can create unwanted stress and discomfort. Having to cope with an array of menopause symptoms at the same time as the onset of infertility can be especially difficult for some women.
Medically, menopause is defined as the point at which you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months, as long as there is no other underlying medical problem that may have caused the break in menstruation. Women usually go through this transition in their late forties and early fifties. However, menopause and related symptoms can strike much earlier, and though any time before the age of 40 is considered early menopause, it can even happen to women in their twenties.
Early Menopause Distinctions
Early menopause can be an especially emotional time for those who experience it. When menopause begins within the average age range, it is generally a difficult and frustrating time for women, both physically and emotionally. But when a woman in her twenties or thirties starts to experience symptoms of menopause, it can be even more stressful and overwhelming. The main difference between menopause and early menopause – beside the age at which it occurs – is the intensity of the emotional impact.
Young women don't expect to begin menopause so early, and it can often feel like their youth is being taken from them. If they were planning on having children and they begin early menopause, it can be devastating. Dealing with a number of physical symptoms on top of that may seem like too much to bear, especially if it hasn't been predicted.
It's important to remember that you're not alone in this experience. Many other young women go through early menopause, and there are plenty of resources to help you manage your symptoms and work through your feelings. Click on the following link to learn more about treating symptoms of menopause.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
- Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000