The average of age of menopause in the United States is 51, but did you know that for some women, onset of the Meno can come much earlier? Early menopause refers to onset between 41 and 45 years of age. If this is a surprise for you, don’t worry. Here are some quick facts about the phenomenon.
How Common Is It?
It occurs in about 1% of women in the United States.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of early onset menopause and natural menopause are very similar. They include: periods that are heavier or lighter than usual, irregular or missed periods, hot flashes, mood swings, cognitive changes, decrease in sex drive, and sleep disturbances.
Can I Be Tested for It?
Yes, your doctor or nurse can give you a blood test to measure estrogen and related hormones.
What Causes Early Onset Menopause?
It can be caused by a medical condition (e.g., autoimmune diseases, HIV and AIDS, missing chromosomes, or chronic fatigue syndrome) or treatment such as premature ovarian failure, damage to the ovaries by chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments, or surgical removal of the ovaries. Or it may have no cause at all and be labeled as spontaneous.
Can It Be Reversed?
Not usually, but treatment can help delay or reduce the symptoms.
What Are the Risks?
Early onset menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis, but this can be offset by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, doing weight-bearing and strength training exercises, and by consuming a healthy amount of dietary calcium. Early onset can also increase your risk of heart disease.
Can These Risk Factors Be Treated?
Hormone therapy can potentially help reduce the risks of osteoporosis and heart disease.
In closing, early onset menopause can be confusing and unsettling until diagnosed. However, the good news is that you’re not alone and early onset symptoms, like all Meno symptoms, can be managed with the support of a health care provider that has a deep understanding of all the stages of menopause.