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Premature Menopause

Premature Menopause

Because it might come earlier than you thought

4min
Premature Menopause

Objectives

Women and menstruation have a love-hate relationship. The physical and psychological changes and stress caused by hormones, the cost of menstrual products, and menstrual pain torment us. We want the painful times to pass quickly while there here. We can get so frustrated we want to get rid of menstruation even if we have to sell our souls. But the reality is the end of menstruation is not the peace we were hoping for. Women struggle during menopause due to various physical and psychological symptoms caused by changes in hormones. These symptoms can be even more difficult for those who experience menopause prematurely, so we all need to pre-emptively think about life after the end of our menstrual cycles.

Menopause, Too Soon is not Good News

How Early is “Premature” Menopause?

Women generally begin menstruation in their early teens. Most women start perimenopause after their mid-40s and it can last for an average of four to five years, although this varies by individuals. On average, women reach “menopause” around the age of 50 which marks the end of their menstrual cycles.

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Menopause and Perimenopause Menopause is the end of the menstrual cycle as estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones produced from the ovaries, gradually decrease. Perimenopause is the time of transitioning to menopause. Menopause is diagnosed when a year has passed after the last period and there are significant hormonal changes as your body transitions. At this time, taking care of your health is critical. The term climacteric is also used to refer to the time in which men and women’s reproductive capacity decreases, culminating in the end of ovarian function for women.

Just as the time of starting menstruation varies by individual, menopause can also occur at different times. However, particular care is needed if the time of menopause does not fall into the average age range. The medical field defines menopause before age 40 as “premature menopause” and about 1% of women in the world receive this diagnosis. We need to learn about menopause earlier to help those suffering around us and to prepare for the quick changes that can come upon us.

Causes

Unfortunately, finding the exact cause of premature menopause is difficult. As it is with most disorders, premature menopause also occurs due to various factors complexly affecting our bodies, but the following factors are known to be major causes.

  • Hereditary factors
  • Abnormal metabolism (i.e., Addison's disease and diabetes)
  • Autoimmune disease (i.e., thyroiditis, leukoplakia, myasthenia gravis)
  • Gene abnormality (i.e., Turner syndrome)
  • Viral infection (i.e., mumps)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Oophorectomy
  • Hysterectomy
  • Stress
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There is also research indicating premature menopause occurs more commonly in women who are smokers compared to non-smokers.

Symptoms

Some women do not experience particular symptoms except for not menstruating. However, premature menopause starts with irregular menstrual cycles just like natural menopause and individuals can experience various symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

  • Urogenital atrophy
  • Decline in sexual function
  • Hair loss
  • Dry eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arthralgia (Joint stiffness or pain)
  • Low bone density
  • Hot flashes
  • Severe fatigue
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Body mass index (BMI) increases after menopause which increases the risks of abdominal obesity and high blood pressure as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Severe mood swings
  • Amnesia
  • Decline of sexual desire
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One study reported that natural premature menopause sufferers had higher levels of depression than those with artificial menopause caused by surgery or chemotherapy. Also, the younger the age of menopause the higher the stress level, and physically active women experienced fewer symptoms.

Health Problems Particularly Related to Premature Menopause

Early menopause is reported to increase chances of experiencing the following health problems in the long term. Hormone therapy can relieve these problems but is not a perfect solution and one should bear in mind the side effects.

  • Premature death
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Neurological disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Mood disorders

Prevention

It’s difficult to find the exact cause of premature menopause, but ensuring our bodies are healthy can help to lower our chances. This can include,

  • Regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight not a “beauty standard” weight
  • Quit smoking

Treatments

Premature menopause can lead to various complications, other than the inability to become pregnant. Above all things, symptoms of premature menopause can greatly impact on your daily life. If you experience any symptoms, getting treatment can help you to overcome them and continue living your best life.

💉 Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy involves regularly administering an appropriate amount of estrogen and progestogen and is generally performed until the average menopause age (about 50 to 51).

Estrogen can relieve symptoms, prevent other symptoms of menopause, and help maintain bone density. Estrogen is administered with progesterone or progestogen as taking just estrogen can increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

However, hormonal therapy is not a recommended treatment for all women as it can increase the risks of stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer.

😌 Psychotherapy

Menopause brings not only physical changes to our bodies but also psychological changes. Depression and severe mood swings can occur due to hormonal changes. Some women experience a decline in sexual desire and become more irritable due to insomnia. Premature menopause experienced at an earlier age can cause psychological withdrawal, fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

We tend to forget to take care of our minds due to physical pain or discomfort. However, it is important to take care of your mind as well as your body. You need to comfort and encourage the small and fragile version of yourself inside, who is suffering from anxiety. Eat healthy foods and exercise to work up a sweat. Meet with the people who love you. Try writing a diary reflecting on your emotions. If needed, get counselling with a professional consultant or get help from a specialist.

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You Don’t Have to Overcome it Alone

A study with Korean adult women showed that women with premature menopause experience more stress, up to 1.28 to 1.75 times more than women experiencing normal menopause. But don’t be afraid of premature menopause. Previous studies have found that people with high emotional intelligence and emotional support are less likely to suffer emotional distress from menopause. We can overcome premature menopause by taking care of one another in solidarity.

Summary

  • Menopause before the age of 40 is known as ‘premature menopause’
  • Treatment of the physical symptoms is important in treating premature menopause, but don’t forget to take care of your mind also
References
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