Women who experience the symptoms of menopause before the age forty are likely experiencing early menopause. Menopause occurs when the body begins to slow production of essential hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which regulate female reproductive functions including menstruation, fertility, and libido.
Although menopause is a natural life transition, its early occurrence can raise concerns. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the duration and frequency of many early menopause symptoms. Learn more about treatments for early menopause.
Risks Associated with Early Menopause
During menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases. These hormone fluctuations can trigger many symptoms, from hot flashes and night sweats to vaginal dryness and depression. While women going through early menopause experience these symptoms, they may also be at increased risk for the additional health issues, including:
- Ovarian cancer
- Gum disease
Early Menopause Treatments
Because of the aforementioned health risks associated with early menopause, women experiencing it should seek treatment. Menopause symptoms can be treated in a variety of ways, ranging from lifestyle changes to pharmaceutical options. Some popular treatments include:
To help prevent osteoporosis, it is recommended that women who are experiencing early menopause consume foods and drinks rich in calcium or take calcium supplements. They should also eat a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote general well-being.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine is recommended for early menopause, in order to increase blood circulation and endorphin production. Exercise also helps combat menopausal weight gain. Resistance-based training (e.g. weight lifting) helps strengthen muscles and prevent bone loss.
Many herbs contain phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. These phytoestrogens help restore hormone balance and promote good health. Common herbs that provide relief are black cohosh, dong quai, red clover, and ginseng.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replenishes essential hormones that the ovaries have stopped producing. The most common combination is estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone). While HRT is effective in reducing the risk of osteoporosis, the long term use of HRT can trigger side effects, such as the onset of other menopause symptoms and increased risk of certain cancers.
Women who think they may be going through early menopause should consult their doctor. Click on the articles below to learn more about 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.