Every woman knows to expect menopause as she ages. The average age to experience it is 51 for women in the United States, but any time between ages 45 to 55 is considered within the normal range. Menopause before age 45 is considered early, and before age 40 is premature.
So, how do you know if you’re in premature menopause? For starters, there is a difference between menopause and perimenopause, which is the process of heading into menopause itself. When you’ve gone more than twelve months without a period, you’ve entered menopause, but prior to this as your ovulation slows, you’ll be in perimenopause and begin experiencing the symptoms that you always hear people talking about– hot flashes and chills, mood changes, sleep problems, and of course, irregular periods. A changing period is the main sign of menopause, and while there are many reasons to have irregular or missing periods, you should always discuss it with your doctor. If you’re presenting other symptoms and not within the typical age range, they may diagnose you with premature menopause. There are many reasons that this might happen to you, and they will help you to determine the cause and cope with the changes. Here are some of the reasons you might begin menopause prematurely.
If you’ve undergone chemotherapy, had your ovaries removed, or had any other treatment or procedure that would damage your estrogen production, it may lead to premature menopause. However, damaged or missing ovaries are not the only potential cause, and you can still experience premature menopause if your ovaries are intact.
It is likely that there is a genetic component to when you will naturally begin menopause. If other explanations don’t fit, this may be what it comes down to. If your mother experienced menopause early or prematurely, it’s possible that you will as well.
There are some habits that you might’ve had (or might still have) in previous years that can affect your reproductive health, with smoking being a major one. Long-term or regular smoking has been proven to have a correlation to earlier menopause than that seen in women who don’t smoke. Other lifestyle choices that may contribute are vegetarianism, lack of exercise, lack of sun exposure, and low BMI.
There are several chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to premature menopause. Most of them do this by affecting the function of the ovaries. Turner syndrome, pure gonadal dysgenesis, and Fragile X syndrome are all possible causes. If you or any family members have premature menopause and you suspect that one of these conditions might be the cause, it’s important to discuss genetic testing with your doctor.
Autoimmune diseases can cause a whole host of health issues, including premature menopause. When inflammation caused by these diseases affects the ovaries, their function is altered or stopped. Rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid problems are potential autoimmune diseases that may be the cause of your premature menopause.
Epilepsy can sometimes cause the ovaries to fail prematurely, and resultantly lead to early or premature menopause in about 14% of women with the disease.
Depending on the cause of your premature menopause, hormone therapy might be a good treatment option for you to help lessen the symptoms. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, like the kind offered at Renewed Vitality, can improve your quality of life during perimenopause and menopause. Most of the adverse symptoms of menopause stem from a change in your body’s estrogen levels, and by adding in estrogen that is no longer being produced, some of those symptoms can be eased. Bioidentical hormones are exactly what they sound like– they’re biologically identical to the ones naturally produced in your body. Renewed Vitality’s bioidentical estrogen is 100% natural, created using a plant-based source. Their exact chemical structure matches the kind made by the human body, and their natural makeup allows them to be more easily processed than artificial varieties.
If you are suffering from premature menopause, or if the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause in general are causing you distress, contact Renewed Vitality to ask about our bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. It may be able to help you feel a bit more like yourself again.