Early menopause occurs when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops before age 45. It can happen either naturally or due to a side effect of specific treatments. Usually, menopause starts between the ages of 45–50.
Consult a doctor if you are under 45 and your period becomes infrequent or stops altogether.
Early menopause symptoms
The primary symptom of early menopause is infrequent or no periods without other reasons like pregnancy. Some women might experience typical menopausal symptoms early; those include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Discomfort during intercourse
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Anxiety or low mood
- Reduced sex drive
- Concentration or memory problems Women who go through early menopause have higher risks of developing cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis due to lowered estrogen hormone levels.
Early menopause causes
Ovaries stop working
Early menopause can happen naturally when a woman’s ovaries stop working or produce the usual levels of certain hormones, particularly estrogen. The specific cause of premature ovarian failure is unknown, but for some women, it might be due to:
- Chromosome abnormalities (like Turner syndrome).
- An autoimmune disease, where the human body’s immune system attacks good tissues.
- Certain infections like tuberculosis, malaria, and mumps
Premature ovarian failure can run in families.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can lead to premature ovarian failure, which might be temporary or permanent. Risks of having early menopause depend on:
- Your age
- The type of the treatment: Different types of chemotherapy can impact ovaries differently, and radiotherapy around your brain or pelvis can also increase the chances of developing early menopause
Removing both ovaries during surgeries can also lead to premature or early menopause, for example, during a hysterectomy (womb removal operation).
Early menopause treatments
The primary treatments include hormone replacement therapy or contraceptive pills to make up for missing hormones. The doctor will recommend treatments until the average age (51) for menopause.
You might not be able to have hormonal treatments if you have had certain types of cancer. The doctor will discuss other treatments and lifestyle changes to help you protect your health.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022