In United States the average age of onset of menopause is 51 years. Most women have menopause between 40 and 55 years. Early menopause is cessation of menses for more than 12 months before the age of 40 years. At least 5 to 10 % of women are known to undergo early menopause.
Aside from the normal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swing, sudden perspiration, a women who undergoes early menstruation may also experience anxiety and depression. Early menopause does not require any specific treatment and it cannot be reversed. But treatment may be necessary to alleviate symptoms that occur with early menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy is one such treatment. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, alcohol, exercising daily eating balanced diet can help to control symptoms. Certain herbs and alternative medicines are also beneficial for the woman who is undergoing early menses.
Common Causes Of Early Menopause In 40s
Early menopause can occur without any cause or it may happen due to medical illness, surgery, or medications. Following are some of the important reasons that should be considered for early onset of menopause:
- Family history: A woman may be at increased risk of early menopause if her mother or grandmother had early or premature menopause.
- Surgical removal of ovaries: In some conditions where both the ovaries are removed surgically before the age of 40, the woman may not get her periods and her level of estrogen will drop. This will lead to early menopause.
- Smoking: Women who smoke get early onset of menopause. They also suffer from severe menopausal symptoms than other women.
- Autoimmune diseases: Thyroid disease, rheumatic arthritis, and several other autoimmune diseases can trigger premature menopause as the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the ovaries.
- Epilepsy: Women suffering from epilepsy are known to have premature menopause.
Signs And Symptoms Of Early Menopause
The symptoms of early menopause are almost same as that of natural onset menopause. In the beginning the women develops irregularities in her menses. It may be delayed for 2 to 3 months or the flow may be very less for a day or more persisting for several days at a stretch.
A woman having premature menopause may experience these symptoms:
- Irregular periods
- Missed periods
- Cessation of menses before the age of 40.
- Sudden hot flashes on face which spreads all over body.
- Dryness in vagina
- Incontinence of bladder
- Frequent urination
- Mood swings
- Increased irritability
- Dryness in mouth, and skin
- Loss of libido
- Night sweats
- Unexplained fatigue
- Memory lapses and difficulty in concentrating.
- Weight gain and bloating of abdomen.
Diagnosis Of Early Menopause
For diagnosis of early menopause, your doctor will take your medical history. He will inquire about the regularity of your menses. After physical examination he will recommend certain blood tests which include test to determine thyroid hormone level, test to rule out pregnancy, and estradiol test. Estradiol is a type of estrogen hormone. When estradiol is found less than normal value, it means the ovary is not producing enough estrogen hormone indicating onset of menopause.
Blood FSH value is important test to determine whether a woman is having early menopause. FSH is follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone triggers ovary to produce estrogen. When FSH is reduced production of estrogen is hampered indicating menopause.
Natural Remedies For Early Menopause
Usually treatment for early menopause is not needed. It is not a reversible condition. However, if the symptoms of early menopause are discomforting to the woman, she may need treatment to alleviate these symptoms. Treatment options include intake of hormone replacement therapy and lifestyle adjustment. Alternative medicines are also useful in addressing the symptoms as well as the underlying hormonal imbalance.
Lifestyle adjustments include:
- Yoga and meditation to reduce stress.
- Calcium supplements
- Eating balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Quitting smoking
Natural phytoestrogens can to some extent alleviate symptoms related to menopause. Some plants contain phyoestrogens that are type of estrogen in natural form. Foods that contain phytoestrogens are flax seed, rye, millet, soy products, beans and peas. They are also present in certain herbs such as black cohosh, chaste tree berry, ginkgo biloba, ginseng etc. These popular herbs are useful to alleviate symptoms of menopause.
Homeopathy medicines are also useful to alleviate early menopause symptoms. Sepia, Lachesis, pulasatilla etc are few important homeopathic medicines that can make this transitional phase of woman’s life more comfortable.