Premature Menopause: Why It Happens and What You Can Do About It
One of the most dreaded phases in a woman’s life is reaching menopause. While this phase should come at late 40s or early 50s, some women have to experience it way earlier like around the age of 40. There are many reasons why some women get menopause early, it can be due to genetics, medical procedures or an illness. This process is called Premature Menopause and no woman would like this to happen to them.
Are the Symptoms of Natural and Premature Menopause the same?
Yes, symptoms will be very similar because it is the same menopause phase that is occurring just several years earlier. Symptoms like missed periods, irregular periods, periods that are lighter or heavier than usual and hot flashes are very common during early menopause. Other signs that premature menopause is occurring is when the vagina is less flexible and tends to be very dry. The woman will also feel incontinence as there is lesser control of the bladder. She will also feel irritable and depressed. Moreover, she will have decreased libido.
How or why does this happen?
There are different reasons why pre-mature menopause can happen. It can be because of a medical procedure done or the woman has a disorder that runs in the family. There is a high chance that a woman who has undergone chemotherapy or other radiation procedures can have premature menopause. If the person has a family member with hypothyroidism, lupus or Graves’ disease then there is a high chance that she will have an early menopause too.
How do doctors make sure that it is Pre-mature Menopause?
There are only two other options when symptoms like these are present: a thyroid disease or pregnancy. Doctors will only need to take a blood test and physical exam to know which of these is to be ruled out. If neither is positive, the doctor will proceed to examining the estradiol levels of the woman. When estradiol levels of a woman is at a low level, this means that the ovaries are staring to fail and is not releasing estrogen hormones anymore. If the estradiol levels hit below 36 then the woman is undergoing menopause already. Another way to check is making use of FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. When estrogen production is low, FSH levels will increase. If the person has 30-40 mIU/ml, she is undergoing menopause already.
What are the effects of Pre-mature Menopause?
Because of the low estrogen levels, the person is now at risk of having ovarian and colon cancer. She might also get periodontal gum disease, some tooth loss and cataract formation in the eyes. Women undergoing menopause are very prone to osteoporosis as well. And of course, women who have menopause during their late 30s and early 40s will not be able to bear child anymore.
Can this be treated?
Pre-mature menopause cannot be treated because it is a natural occurrence in a woman’s body. Unfortunately, it is not reversible too.