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Early menopause. 6 symptoms that should set off your alarm bells

The first signs of entering the period of menopause make most women panic, even if menopause has started “classically”, that is, after the age of fifty. Fear is even greater when signs of menopause appear much earlier or when the woman would yet want to get pregnant.

The awareness of the permanent loss of fertility arouses emotions in particular in mature women - even though they no longer have more children in their plans, regular menstrual cycles make them feel more feminine. Accepting changes occurring in their bodies is even more difficult if the perimenopausal period begins earlier, for example before the age of 40.

Menopause - why does it occur too early?

Early menopause may be the result of the so-called premature termination of ovarian function. Women affected by this condition may continue to menstruate, but usually become infertile and have no chance of getting pregnant without medical support. Too early menopause may also occur as a result of previous cancer treatment (both chemotherapy and radiotherapy adversely affect the ovaries) or removal of both ovaries. Other, less frequent causes of early menopause include chronic diseases, side effects of medication, psychiatric disorders and tumours in the hypothalamic or pituitary region.

Symptoms of early menopause

The typical symptoms of premature menopause are not different from the symptoms that are observed by women who undergo menopause after the age of 50; they include:

  • menstrual disorders (e.g. irregular, less frequent menstruation),
  • hot flushes, which are a manifestation of reduced oestrogen production in the ovaries.

In addition, there may be other, less characteristic symptoms that are usually not associated with menopause, especially if they occur in young women in their thirties. These are:

  • decreased libido,
  • insomnia,
  • frequent mood fluctuations or mild depression,
  • dryness of the mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth,
  • bladder irritation / urinary incontinence,
  • vaginal dryness (its walls become thinner and less elastic).
If you are less than forty years old and have experienced these symptoms, do not delay your visit to a doctor. Their presence does not necessarily indicate that you are going through menopause, but it is not worth risking, especially when there are also additional, unfavourable circumstances, such as autoimmune disorders (lupus, Graves’ disease, hypothyroidism), a family history of problems with getting pregnant or of early menopause.

What tests should be done?

In the case of suspected premature menopause the most important diagnostic test is a blood test to determine the FSH blood level. This hormone, among others, stimulates the ovarian production of oestrogen. When oestrogen production decreases, FSH levels in the blood increase - the test results above 40 mIU / mL confirm the menopause. Your doctor may also ask you to check the levels of estradiol, one of the forms of oestrogen.

Can the early menopause be stopped?

Unfortunately, the progression of menopause cannot be stopped, but it is possible to alleviate the complaints associated with a decrease in the levels of female hormones in the body. In this case the procedure is similar to that recommended for women undergoing menopause at the typical age.

A separate issue is the loss of fertility at a young age. For women who are just planning to get pregnant, information that they are infertile may be a real shock. Many of them have a breakdown as their first reaction and only after some time they are ready to talk about the options that the doctor can offer them. Although fertility cannot be restored, women who do not have their own gametes may experience pregnancy and childbirth. They can use IVF with donor eggs.

Early menopause is not a common phenomenon, but it can affect every woman of childbearing age. If your periods have become irregular and you also have other health complaints, make an appointment with a doctor and see if the discomfort is not caused by the changes that accompany menopause.

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