Menopause is typically diagnosed when a woman has missed her period for 12 months in a row. If this happens, the missed period is usually accompanied by other menopause symptoms. Many women believe menopause is something that doesn't occur until later life, around 50 years of age. However, it is possible to experience premature menopause much earlier. Keep reading to learn the symptoms and signs of premature menopause.
Everything to Know
Premature menopause is menopause that occurs before the age of 40. It is important to distinguish premature menopause from early menopause and premature ovarian failure. While premature menopause happens naturally, early menopause is induced by medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgical procedures that damage or remove the ovaries. Moreover, while women who experience premature menopause will stop having periods and no longer be able to have children, women with premature ovarian failure will have irregular or occasional periods with the possibility of becoming pregnant.
Despite the differences between the three conditions, they all share similar symptoms and effects.
What Is Premature Menopause?
Premature menopause occurs when a woman's ovaries stop working before the age of 40. Approximately 1 out over every 1,000 women experience menopause before the age of 30. In fact, it can occur in the early twenties or even teen years.
There are many believed causes of premature menopause, including autoimmune conditions, viral infections, and genetics. However, approximately 60% of premature menopause cases have no identifiable cause. In those cases, premature menopause is known as idiopathic premature menopause.
Symptoms of Premature Menopause
In general, the symptoms of premature menopause are the same as the symptoms of regular menopause, though it is worth noting that symptoms will be experienced differently by every individual woman. The most common premature menopause symptoms include the following:
- Changes in menstruation (irregular bleeding, irregular cycle)
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Loss of libido
The Effects of Premature Menopause
Early menopause can have devastating emotional effects for some women, especially women who still want to have children. Women who experience premature menopause often suffer from depression, self-esteem issues, and grief for no longer being able to bear children.
In addition to the emotional effects of premature menopause, these women are at an increased risk of developing other health problems, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Moreover, women who experience premature menopause are more likely to exhibit mood disorders, anxiety, and psychological distress.
There is no treatment that is able to reverse premature menopause and make the ovaries start working again. In rare cases, it has been reported that the ovaries spontaneously start working again for unknown reasons.
Premature menopause can be a very hard time in a woman's life, so it is important to seek help and receive the proper treatment. A doctor may recommend a treatment course to relieve menopause symptoms and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and heart disease.
- Better Health Channel. (2016). Premature and early menopause. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/premature-and-early-menopause
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Early menopause (premature menopause). Retrieved November 16, 2016, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-premature-menopause/
- Okeke, T.C., Anyaehie, U.B. & Ezenyeaku, C.C. (2013). Premature Menopause. Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research, 3(1), 90-95.