Menopause is considered premature if it begins before the age of 40. However, in certain circumstances, menopause may be considered premature, regardless of when it begins, specifically when it is medically induced for any of a number of reasons, including a hysterectomy (removal of the womb) and medications, such as chemotherapy drugs.
Premature menopause can occur naturally. While the average age of menopause is 51, for some women menopause-related hormonal changes start to take place much earlier without any obvious health condition present. The two main reasons for this are genes and lifestyle factors:
- If your mother went through menopause early, chances are you will too.
- Smoking, a poor diet and obesity make it more likely that you’ll start menopause early.
Having an early or premature menopause can initially be alarming, and if you are worried or much younger than 51, you should see your doctor, who can eliminate medical causes.
Once women receive confirmation that their premature menopause is naturally occurring, many go on to enjoy life without the inconvenience of monthly periods, only sooner than planned.
A long list of medical conditions can cause early menopause. We describe two examples:
Chromosome defects, such as Turner’s syndrome, can mean that ovaries never fully develop. This may lead to problems with fertility and premature menopause.
Autoimmune conditions arise when the body mistakes some of the body’s normal working cells for an invading organism such as a virus. In response, the immune system mounts an attack and if the ovaries happen to be the target, normal production of estrogen and progesterone is affected, leading to premature menopause. This is seen more commonly in women who suffer from thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Having a hysterectomy (removal of the womb) can cause women to enter menopause prematurely, the extent of which depends on the type of operation required. There are two main types of hysterectomies:
A sub-total (or incomplete) hysterectomy is when the womb is removed, but one or both ovaries are left intact. Although periods stop (because there is no womb), the ovaries continue to produce hormones. However, women who have gone through this operation tend to enter menopause prematurely after a few years. Because monthly periods will stop, it can be difficult to determine when this occurs.
A total (or complete) hysterectomy is when the womb and both ovaries are removed. Women who undergo this type of operation enter menopause immediately and may experience symptoms such as hot flashes as little as 24 hours after the surgery.
Some medications and treatments prescribed by your doctor can cause a premature menopause:
Some types of anti-depressants and other similar types of medications
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy, perhaps the most common cause of premature menopause. These treatments are intended to treat cancerous cells but also cause damage to healthy ones, affecting the genetic material within them that enables them to naturally multiply. In some cases, periods resume once the treatment is over, in which case you are not considered to be menopausal.
MenoSupport can provide support to the body through all stages of menopause but is especially useful when a broad range of symptoms, such as hot flashes, irritability, tiredness, vaginal dryiness and aches and pains kick in.
- Made from soy beans
- Provides support in all menopause stages
- Contains magnesium and hibiscus
A herbal dietary supplement containing soy isoflavones, magnesium and hibiscus extract for all stages of menopause.