The average age of menopause is 51 years. However in some cases women may experience an early onset of Menopause, termed as Premature or Early Menopause.
Early menopause puts excessive physical and mental stress to a woman’s health and may expose her to several diseases.– Medhya Herbals
Difference between Early and Premature Menopause
When Menopause arrives early, your age and level of imbalances, really determine the intensity of Menopause symptoms and impact on your body and mind.
When menopause happens before the age of 40 years, it is termed as Premature menopause. When menopause happens before 45 years, it is termed as Early Menopause.
Can a Woman go into Menopause Early?
Early onset of Menopause affects a nearly 1% of women before they turn 40 years. Additionally, nearly 5% of the women experience Menopause in their early forties. Some women have been observed to have Menopause as early as 36 years.
It affects a small proportion of women in their forties. While Menopause is a natural physiological phenomenon, it is not taken well by a woman’s body when it happens at a young age.
Who are at risk for Early Menopause?
Early onset of Menopause is commonly observed in 10 – 28% of cases of Primary Amenorrhea, meaning women who have not had regular periods for a long time due to a medical condition.
It is also observed in 4 -18% cases of Secondary Amenorrhea, meaning women who used to have periods but experienced loss of periods due to some health condition.
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What Triggers Early onset of Menopause?
It can be spontaneous, meaning it happens naturally or induced induced by medical interventions such as surgical removal of reproductive organs or radiation treatment.
Whether it arrives naturally or induced, Premature menopause is caused by the loss of ovarian function. It means that ovaries cannot produce eggs and hormones anymore, as they used to during monthly menstrual cycle.
List of factors that damage the ovaries or lead to spontaneous and induced Early Menopause are:
1. Pelvic Injuries and Medical Treatment
Damage to ovaries, leading to ovarian failure can happen during pelvic injuries. Ovarian failure is also observed in medical treatments such as chemotherapy, pelvic radiation, and sometimes in hormone therapy.
2. Surgical removal of ovaries
Removal of ovaries through oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) or during hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
3. Physical, Mental and Emotional Stress
Fluctuating emotions, continuous daily stress, and strenuous work overload the body organs and systems. Chronic emotional stress is a leading cause.
4. Genetic Disorders
Chromosomal abnormalities are reported in 10-20% of cases involving X sex chromosomes. The commonest abnormality is 45X0 (Turner’s syndrome).
5. Autoimmune Diseases
It is reported in 30-60% of cases of women with Autoimmune health conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, HIV, and Hashimoto’s Disease.
Women with autoimmune diseases are at an increased risk for hormonal insufficiency and metabolic disorders. This can trigger menopause earlier.
Mumps is one of the most common infection associated with Premature Menopause.
7. Pelvic tuberculosis
Pelvic health issues such as tuberculosis can cause secondary amenorrhea and ovarian failure in 3% of cases.
Polycyclic hydrocarbons in cigarette smoke are known to induce Menopause earlier. It can be due to primary smoking or from secondary smoking (persons who are constantly exposed to cigarette smoke).
9. Inadequate sleep
Sleep is important for everybody but especially for the women in Perimenopause. Inadequate sleep on chronic basis, leads to severe Vata Imbalance, which is one of the primary triggers of the condition.
Symptoms and Signs
There is a severe imbalance in the levels of reproductive system hormones such as Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. Ovaries slow down the production of sex hormones below 30mIU/ml, so levels of FSH get increased up to 40mIU/ ml.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
As ovaries start to shut down, monthly hormone production declines. This leads to hormone imbalance and related functional symptoms.
Often labelled as Menopause Symptoms, following are functional symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance. Hormone levels fluctuate at a much faster rate during Premature Menopause, leading to severe functional Menopause Symptoms.
- Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
- Hot flushes
- Night Sweats
- Reduced libido
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
Menstrual Cycle becomes irregular and unpredictable as ovulation does not happen on monthly basis. Combined with hormonal imbalance, one will experience significant changes in menstrual flow, if and when period arrives.
Health Complications – Is Early Menopause Dangerous?
Early onset of menopause puts excessive stress to a woman’s health and may expose her to several serious diseases. As her body is not yet ready to undergo the hormonal changes accompanying Menopause, her physical, mental, and emotional wellness is put to risk.
She faces an increased risk of mortality (or death at a young age), cardiovascular diseases (heart attack), neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s Disease), psychiatric diseases, and increased risk of fractures due to poor bone health.
The risk of health complications increases with earlier age at the time of menopause.
Cancer: Ovarian and colorectal cancer
Eyes: Vision loss in the form of Myopia and Byopia, and Cataract.
Teeth: Rapid tooth loss and periodontal diseases.
Osteoporosis: Increased risk for lower bone density, earlier onset osteoporosis, and fractures.
Heart disease: Rapid loss of estrogen can lead to Angina and Ischemic heart disease. Estrogen is responsible for increased production of HDL (good cholesterol) and decreased levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides (harmful fatty acids in the bloodstream).
Parkinson’s Disease like symptoms such as Depression, Dementia, and Premature Death.
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