Early menopause occurs when the ovaries begin to fail before the usual age, normal menopause in women usually occurs at age 45, however, when it comes forward and occurs before this age it is said to be early.
Early menopause usually occurs mainly in women with mothers or sisters who have gone through the same problem, however, there are other factors besides genetic ones, such as ovarian failure, where the ovaries suddenly stop working, for example.
Also, the presence of a disease where you had to remove the ovaries or the uterus, or the performance of cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can cause decrease in the production of the sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, causing symptoms typical of the menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Early menopause main symptoms
It is important to stay attentive to certain signs and symptoms which, if they arise before the age of 45, can indicate that you are having an early menopause, these include: insomnia, vaginal dryness, mood changes, decreased libido, irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, osteoporosis, lack of energy and depression.
Although they are the same as menopause, it is common for them to feel more intensely due to abrupt interruption in the production of sex hormones. Women suffering from early menopause also have to deal with a strong emotional impact, especially if they were planning to be mothers.
In cases where you suspect early menopause, those are the signs and symptoms below:
- Irregular menstruation
- Absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months
- Heat waves that start abruptly and for no apparent reason
- Severe night sweats that can interrupt sleep.
- Frequent fatigue
- Mood changes such as irritability, anxiety or sadness
- Difficulty sleeping or lower sleep quality
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair loss
- Decreased libido
How the diagnosis is made
The diagnosis of early menopause should be made by the gynecologist, and is usually made when there is no menstruation or when it is irregular. The doctor indicates the completion of blood tests that can measure the amount of hormones such as FSH, estradiol, and prolactin, also may indicate the completion of a pregnancy test, considering the possibility of a pregnancy or a genetic test.
When there are no associated symptoms, premature aging of the ovaries is usually diagnosed only when the woman is trying to become pregnant and has difficulty, or when she performs hormonal treatments to evaluate her fertility.
In addition to this, premature aging of the ovaries can cause other problems besides decreasing the number of eggs, such as increased chances of abortion, poor quality of remaining ova or increased chance of genetic diseases, increased risk of developing heart disease or bone diseases such as osteoporosis, and increased tendency to suffer from depression or anxiety problems.
Causes of Early Menopause
The early aging of the ovaries can cause early menopause, and can be caused by factors such as:
- Genetic alterations in the X chromosome that can be diagnosed through genetic examination.
- Mother or grandmother with a history of early menopause.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Enzyme deficiencies such as Galactosemia, a genetic disease caused by lack of galactose enzyme, can lead to early menopause.
- Chemotherapy and exaggerated exposure to radiation such as radiation therapy, or certain toxins such as cigarettes or pesticides.
- Some infectious diseases such as mumps, Shigella infection, and malaria can also rarely cause early menopause.
In addition to this, the removal of the ovaries by surgery in cases of ovarian tumor, inflammatory pelvic disease, or endometriosis can also cause early menopause in women, as no ovaries can produce estrogen.
Treatment for early menopause
Hormone replacement is the treatment of choice in cases of early menopause, and is done through the use of estrogen-based drugs, which is a hormone responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and preventing complications such as osteoporosis and heart disease, which are most common in women with early menopause.
In addition to this, it is important to practice regular physical activity and make a balanced diet, avoiding the consumption of sweets, fats and processed products such as bacon, sausage and frozen food to avoid excessive weight gain, and increase the consumption of Whole Foods, seeds and soy products in the diet, as they help in hormonal regulation.