Menopause is the cessation of menstruation for a year or more, and it usually occurs after the age of 50 years. If this happens before age 40, it is labeled as early menopause, and if before 40, it is called premature menopause.
Causes of premature menopause:
Some of the most common causes of premature or early menopause include:
Premature ovarian insufficiency:
Primary ovarian sufficiency is also known as POI; it happens when the ovaries cannot release eggs due to specific hormonal imbalances leading to the sudden cessation of menses. It is not the same as menopause as there is a fifty percent chance that menstruation will resume as compared to premature menopause.
This is secondary to any medical condition or treatment. For example, if someone is going through chemotherapy or radiotherapy, this may cause ovaries to weaken and stop functioning, leading to menopause. This is therefore called “induced menopause” as a secondary cause induces it.
If, due to some medical conditions, ovaries had to be removed, this will lead to specific hormonal imbalances that cause permanent and sudden menopause. This is called surgical menopause.
Some other less common causes of menopause are:
- Infection (oophoritis)
- Metabolic disorders (galactosemia/aromatase deficiency)
- Autoimmune diseases(DM 1, Crohns, Coeliac Disease)
- Genetic abnormalities
Risk factors for early or premature menopause:
- Family history of premature menopause
- Early menarche
Symptoms of premature menopause:
- Irregular periods
- Missed periods
- Hot flashes
- Reduced libido
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Emotional changes
Premature or early menopause is a diagnosis of exclusion. A doctor may test for certain autoimmune conditions of the thyroid or adrenal gland or do a pregnancy test to rule out any reversible causes of premature menopause. One of the more specific criteria for premature menopause is testing for levels of the follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH). An increase in FSH points toward early menopause.
Some of the health risks associated with early or premature menopause are:
- Increase risk of ovarian and colon cancer
- Tooth loss
- Mental health problems
Treatment depends upon the cause of premature menopause. Reversible causes are addressed promptly, and in case of a woman desires hormone replacement therapy that can be administered under supervision and after consultation with a specialist.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 3188 5000.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.