Early menopause occurs when menopause starts before the age of 40, though some women can experience menopause as early as their 30s. Early menopause has a variety of causes, some natural, and some because of surgical procedures. Read on for more details.
Causes of Early Menopause
There are a variety of causes for early menopause, depending on the woman and her circumstances.
Genes. The most common cause of early menopause is simply genetic predisposition. Check your family history to see if there is a trend of experiencing early menopause among your relatives.
Smoking. In many cases, long term chain smokers experience menopause much earlier than their non-smoking counterparts. If you wish to delay menopause, consider reducing or eliminating your cigarette consumption.
Surgery. Some surgical procedures, such as an oophorectomy or hysterectomy, can cause early menopause. Menopause is defined as the point in your life when you have gone 12 months without a period, and having your ovaries removed causes this to happen. Hysterectomies and oophorectomies are not usually by choice, but a necessary medical procedure, so there are no ways to prevent or delay menopause in these cases.
- Cancer treatments. Cancer treatments can take their toll on the human body. Radiation and chemotherapy can prompt early menopause. Certain treatments can cause damage to your ovaries, resulting in ovarian failure and early menopause.
How to Deal with Early Menopause
Although there are no treatments available to reverse early menopause, there are things you can do to help you cope with the symptoms of it. Some good starting points are:
Eat well. Make sure you're getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients your body needs.
Sleep. Sleep deprivation can create and worsen many menopausal symptoms. Aim for 7-8 hours sleep every night.
Exercise. Doctors recommend from 2.5-5 hours of exercise per week. This will keep the body healthy and help balance unstable hormones, which are often causing symptoms.
Take time to de-stress. Too many stress hormones in the body can worsen symptoms. Take 20 minutes every night to do a relaxing activity, such as reading, taking a bath, going to a movie with friends, or whatever else helps you relax.
- Alternative treatments. Treatments such as herbal teas and acupuncture have been growing in popularity.
Always talk to your doctor if you're experiencing early menopause so that he or she can confirm the diagnosis.
Click on the following link to learn more about other treatments for early 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.