Premature menopause is a cause for concern for many women over the age of 30.
"Natural" menopause should start after age 50, but in some cases (due to genetic diseases, stress, or medical procedures) some women may start menopause even before the age of 40. This type of menopause is called "premature menopause".
In addition to the "classic" menopause problems, such as hot flashes or irritability, many women also face other physical and emotional problems.
Menopause signs signify the end of fertile years for a woman.
Women who want to become pregnant will face many difficulties due to premature menopause.
Symptoms of premature menopause
The symptoms of premature menopause are similar to those of women who are experiencing normal menopause:
• Missed or irregular menstrual cycles
• Menstruation stronger or less than usual
• Buffets (sensation of heat and then sensation of cold)
These symptoms are a sign that the ovaries produce less estrogen.
In addition to these symptoms, women experiencing premature menopause may also have the following problems:
• Dry vagina (vagina may become thinner and less flexible)
• Irritability of the bladder and a worsening of the loss of control over the bladder (incontinence)
• Emotional changes (very changing emotional states, irritability, depression)
• Dry skin, eyes or mouth
• Loss of libido
In addition to these symptoms, if you are under 40 years old and you have any of the following problems, you should consult a doctor to check if there is a risk of premature menopause:
• You have done chemotherapy or radiation.
• You or a member of your family have suffered from an autoimmune disease such as hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease, or lupus.
• You have been trying to get pregnant (without success) for over a year.
• Your mother or sister had premature menopause.
The doctor will do a physical exam and will take your blood to eliminate other suspicions (pregnancy or thyroid disease). You will probably have a test to measure estradiol levels. Low estradiol levels may indicate that the ovaries begin to slow down. If your estradiol level is below 36 then it may mean you are in menopause.
Health problems associated with premature menopause
Women with premature menopause have low levels of estrogen because the ovaries no longer produce this hormone. Low levels of this hormone can lead to changes in a woman's health and increase the risk for other medical conditions (such as osteoporosis, colon and ovarian cancer, gum problems, tooth loss and cataracts).
However, women who go through premature menopause, compared to menopausal women over the age of 50, are more exposed to the danger of different diseases because they spend more time in their lives without the protective benefits of estrogen.
Symptoms and health risks resulting from premature menopause, as well as emotional problems, are treated in the same way as those for normal menopause. Relaxation is recommended through yoga exercises and long walks. Women who have infertility problems should talk to a doctor to see what their options are.
Premature menopause is not a reversible process. Once it has begun, it can no longer be stopped.