Why Do Some Women Experience Early Menopause? Understanding Symptoms, Treatment Options, and Prevention Tips

Certain women undergo menopause prior to the age of 40, a condition referred to as premature ovarian failure or early menopause.

Why Do Some Women Experience Early Menopause? Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention Tips

Most women undergo menopause between the ages of 45 to 50, signaling the cessation of their menstrual cycle and the end of their ability to conceive. However, approximately 1% of women experience this transition before the age of 40, known as premature ovarian failure or early menopause. Why does this occur, and who is more susceptible to it? What health issues accompany early menopause? To shed light on these questions, Onlymyhealth interviewed Dr. Seema Sharma, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

Risk Factors for Early Menopause

According to Dr. Sharma, several factors can increase the risk of early menopause. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Having a family member who experienced early menopause
  • Certain chromosomal abnormalities
  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, etc.
  • Chronic smoking habits
  • Undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or pelvic radiation

The symptoms of early menopause are similar to those of normal menopause, and they include:

The symptoms of early menopause include:

  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Heavier or lighter periods than usual
  • Hot flushes, characterized by sudden warmth spreading throughout the body
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Bladder irritation
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Emotional symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, mild depression, sleeplessness, or insomnia
  • Headache
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Breast tenderness
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult your gynecologist for better management of the issue.

A woman may experience several health-related issues when she reaches menopause early. These issues include:

  • Increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones
  • Mood disorders
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Increased risk of heart-related ailments
  • Increased risk of gum disease
  • Increased risk of colon and ovarian cancers

If you are experiencing symptoms of early menopause, it is important to consult your gynecologist. Seeking medical advice can help you manage the situation effectively and mitigate the effects of early menopause. Your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy, but it’s essential to understand its potential benefits and risks before undergoing this treatment.

While early menopause cannot be prevented, knowing the risk factors allows for proactive measures to reduce the likelihood. For instance, women genetically predisposed to early menopause should quit smoking and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Consuming calcium-rich foods and engaging in regular exercise, such as brisk walking and strength training, are recommended by Dr. Sharma. Additionally, if you are at risk of early menopause, consider freezing your eggs to preserve fertility options for the future.

(With inputs from Dr. Seema Sharma, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram)