Women's wellness: Five things you need to know about early menopause

November 15, 2016 by From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network

So you missed a period. Or two. You think to yourself, "I'm too young for menopause. Right?"

Not necessarily. Early , between the ages of 40 and 45, affects about 5 percent of women. Premature menopause, before age 40, affects about 1 percent of women.

You are said to be in menopause if you have gone a full 12 months with no menstrual period. That's when your ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones necessary to maintain your menstrual cycles and fertility. For most women, menopause occurs naturally at about age 51. With increasing life expectancy, many women will spend up to 40 percent of their lives in the postmenopausal stage.

For some women, menopause is induced early because of treatments needed to save their lives, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. For others, it's genetic conditions, autoimmune disorders or even unknown reasons that bring about this change.

From disrupted sleep and hot flashes to dry eyes and weight gain, can range from annoying to serious. But if you are experiencing these things in your 20s, 30s and early 40s, it may make you feel like you're growing old overnight - and aging beyond your friends.

And here's the thing: The signs aren't always clear when you are entering premature or . Maybe you're moody, but who isn't? Maybe hot flashes have started, maybe not. In fact, you may not even realize how a hot flash feels. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and is usually most intense around the face, neck and chest. Some women may feel a mild flushing. Other women end up soaked in sweat and need to change the bed sheets.

So, without a big neon billboard saying, "Welcome to Menopause," what should you do? Here are five things you need to know about early menopause:

1. It's not too early to talk to your provider. If your periods change significantly (become noticeably longer or shorter or vary markedly from your usual schedule) or stop altogether for three cycles before age 45, make an appointment for an evaluation. Missing periods can be a sign of other health concerns too. If you are experiencing premature or early menopause, you're at risk for multiple long-term health consequences, including heart disease, dementia, Parkinsonism, and osteoporosis if you do not take hormone therapy, aptly termed hormone "replacement" therapy under these circumstances. Your health care provider can help determine if you are, indeed, experiencing premature or early menopause.

2. Hormone therapy is vital for lessening the long-term health consequences associated with early or . Unless there is a clear reason to avoid hormone therapy in your particular situation, using hormone therapy at least until the natural age of menopause (age 51 years) is recommended by The North American Menopause Society and other professional medical societies. However, may not alleviate all of the changes associated with early estrogen loss, particularly mood changes and sexual dysfunction.

3. Your family plans may change. If you wish to have a family, you may need to consider options such as freezing embryos or eggs. If you had planned to have children, you may need to allow yourself to envision a new dream, such as building your family through in vitro fertilization with donor eggs, adoption or surrogacy.

4. You can get your sexy back. If you are experiencing low sexual desire or vaginal dryness, talk to your health . Hormonal treatment with estrogen may help with . For some women with who go through menopause early or prematurely, testosterone therapy may even be appropriate. And talk to your partner too. Good communication is associated with higher sexual satisfaction.

5. You may need extra support. If you are in early or premature menopause, you may need extra time and support to come to terms with your diagnosis and the consequences, including the potential long-term health impact and loss of fertility. Sharing your concerns with your partner, friends and your or psychologist can help. Understanding what is happening to your body and what you can do about it is key.

Explore further: New study confirms link between early menopause and higher risk of fracture

1 shares

Related Stories

New study confirms link between early menopause and higher risk of fracture

November 2, 2016
If you're in menopause before the age of 40, you have a higher fracture risk. That fact has already been proven by the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trials. Now a new study evaluating the same WHI data further ...

Nighttime hot flashes may spark mild depression

September 28, 2016
A woman's perception that she is experiencing a high number of nighttime hot flashes can trigger mild symptoms of depression during menopause, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical ...

Women experience marked decline in sexual function immediately before and after menopause

November 2, 2016
Women experience a notable decline in sexual function approximately 20 months before and one year after their last menstrual period, and that decrease continues, though at a somewhat slower rate, over the following five years, ...

Early-onset menopause associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, CVD mortality, all-cause mortality

September 15, 2016
In a study published online by JAMA Cardiology, Taulant Muka, M.D., Ph.D., of Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated the effect of age at onset of menopause and duration since ...

When I'm 64—I'll still have hot flashes?

March 2, 2015
Some 40% of women 60 to 65 years old still have hot flashes. For many, the hot flashes are occasional and mild, but for some, they remain really troublesome, shows a new study just published in Menopause, the journal of The ...

Recommended for you

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are not associated with risk of heart attacks

February 16, 2018
New research from the University of Southampton has found no association between the use of calcium or vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

Study shows options to decrease risk of motor vehicle crashes for adolescent drivers

February 16, 2018
Adolescents who receive comprehensive and challenging on-road driving assessments prior to taking the license test might be protected from future motor vehicle crashes, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham study ...

Being a single dad can shorten your life: study

February 15, 2018
The risk of dying prematurely more than doubles for single fathers compared to single mothers or paired-up dads, according to a study of Canadian families published Thursday.

Keeping an eye on the entire ageing process

February 15, 2018
Medical researchers often only focus on a single disease. As older people often suffer from multiple diseases at the same time, however, we need to rethink this approach, writes Ralph Müller.

Gov't says health costs to keep growing faster than economy

February 14, 2018
U.S. health care spending will keep growing faster than the overall economy in the foreseeable future, squeezing public insurance programs and employers who provide coverage, the government said Wednesday.

Muscle more important than fat in regulating heat loss from the hands

February 14, 2018
In the first study of its kind, Cambridge biological anthropologists have shown that muscle mass is able to predict the rate of heat loss from the hands during severe cold exposure, while body mass, stature and fat mass do ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.