Premature menopause is menopause that occurs before a woman reaches age 40. The more you understand about menopause, the better able you'll be to identify the warning signs in your own body.
How can you tell if you're experiencing premature menopause?
If you're beginning premature menopause, you'll be able to tell by these signs and symptoms:
- Shorter than normal periods
- Missed periods
- Irregular periods
- Lighter or heavier than normal periods
- Sudden feelings of excessive heat in the body (known as "hot flashes")
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decrease in normal sex drive
- Dryness throughout the body, including dry eyes, skin and vaginal dryness.
In addition to these physical symptoms, you may begin to experience emotional symptoms as well. Irritability, depression, anxiety and uncharacteristic mood swings are all common problems for women who experience premature menopause. Changing hormones can leave women feeling giddy one minute and have them crying in the next. This is normal.
What causes premature menopause?
There are many factors that can cause premature menopause, including:
- Weight. Women who are thin may experience menopause earlier because estrogen is stored inside fat in the body.
- Smoking. Women who smoke put themselves at higher risk for this condition.
- Medical conditions. Certain autoimmune diseases, epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis can cause this condition.
- Genetics. If your mother and other women in your family experienced premature menopause, you are more likely to experience it as well.
Are there treatments for premature menopause?
Once menopause begins to set in, there's little to be done to reverse the effects on the body. However, hormone therapy can be prescribed to control the symptoms and ease the transition.
Can you still have a baby if you begin to experience premature menopause?
Talk to a reproductive specialist to explore your options. Egg donation does make pregnancy possible for some women.
What should you do if you believe you are experiencing premature menopause?
Talk to your gynecologist. To make a proper diagnosis, your doctor will need to draw blood and measure your estrogen levels. It's important to talk to your gynecologist right away because premature menopause can sometimes be caused by underlying health conditions that require immediate treatment.
For more information about premature menopause, make an appointment with your OB/GYN today. He or she can answer your questions about this condition and discuss treatment options, and if you still wish to get pregnant, your gynecologist can help you find an appropriate reproductive specialist in your area.