Why Do Some Women Experience Early Menopause? Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention Tips

Some women reach menopause before the age of 40, which is called premature ovarian failure or early menopause.

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahUpdated at: Feb 28, 2022 19:53 IST
Why Do Some Women Experience Early Menopause? Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention Tips

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Most women experience menopause between the ages of 45 to 50. It marks the end of her menstrual cycle, and she can no longer get pregnant. However, 1% of women reach it before the age of 40. It is called a premature ovarian failure or early menopause. Why does this happen? Who are the women who are more likely to experience early menopause? What are the health issues she experiences along with it? To get answers to these questions, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr. Seema Sharma, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

Early Menopause: Risk Factors

Several factors can increase your risk of early menopause. The risk factors, according to Dr. Sharma, include:

  • Genetics: If someone in your family reached menopause early
  • Certain chromosomal defects
  • Immune system-related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, etc
  • Women who are chronic smokers are at a greater risk than those who don’t smoke
  • Certain cancer treatment procedures such as chemotherapy and pelvic radiation

Early Menopause: Symptoms

The symptoms for early menopause are similar to normal menopause, which include:

  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Heavy or lighter period than usual
  • Hot flushes, which is when she experiences sudden warmth that spreads throughout the body
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Bladder irritation
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Emotional symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, mild depression, sleeplessness, or insomnia
  • Headache
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Breast tenderness
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant

If you experience these, it is better to consult your gynaecologist to manage the issue better. 

Also read: Do Not Ignore Bleeding After Menopause, It Could Be A Sign of Uterine Fibroids

Risks Of Early Menopause

A woman might suffer from several health-related issues when she reaches menopause early. Such health-related issues include:

  • Increased risk of osteoporosis, which is a disease associated with weak and brittle bones
  • Mood disorders
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Increased risk to heart-related ailments
  • Increased risk of gum disease
  • Increased risk of colon and ovarian cancers

If you are experiencing early menopause-related symptoms, you must consult your gynaecologist. It will not just help you to manage the situation better, but might also help you with the effects of early menopause. The doctor might prescribe you hormone replacement therapy. However, you must know its pros and cons before undergoing this treatment.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent early menopause. However, we know the risk factors. We know women who are at a greater risk of premature ovarian failure or early menopause. Hence, we can identify them and work on the risk factors to prevent them. For example, women who are genetically predisposed to it should quit smoking. Also, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Sharma recommends having calcium-rich food and exercising enough. Brisk walking and strength training are some of the exercises you can do. Also, early menopause prevents you from getting pregnant. Hence, if you are genetically predisposed to it, then you might consider freezing your eggs. It will help you to consider pregnancy if you reach early menopause.

(With inputs from Dr. Seema Sharma, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram)

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