Menopause is traditionally associated with women in their late 40’s and 50’s; grandmotherly types with graying hair and wrinkling skin. But did you know that menopause can strike women who are in their early 20’s as well? There is a condition known as ‘early menopause’ and this article will explain what early menopause is and what causes it.
First we need to differentiate between early menopause and premature menopause. They are both similar in that menopause sets in much earlier than the norm, but the difference is that premature menopause starts in women before they turn 40. Early menopause starts when a woman is between 40 and 45.
Menopause evokes various responses from women of all ages. Some dread it, others shrug it off, still others don’t give it much thought since it is years into their futures.
The majority of women go though menopause between the ages of 45 to 55. However, approximately 1% of women experience menopause before they turn 40. When this happens, it is termed premature menopause, or premenopause.
Premenopause can happen to females as young as 15, although that is quite rare. Premenopause when using the term to describe early menopause, can be caused by cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation which damage the ovaries. Also, surgical removal of the ovaries will result in an early induced menopause.
The current epidemic in tobacco-related illness and death is mostly due to the increase in the number of women smokers in the past 5 decades. Since 1965, the death rate from smoking-related diseases in women has more than doubled in North America.
The death rate of women with the chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis has increased by 241% from 1980 to 1995. Some call this the unlucky inheritance of the female baby boomers who took up smoking in droves after World War II.
In short, smoking is totally susceptible to the effects of serious consequences detrimental for women. Women smokers seem to be more tobacco smoke, have more difficulty quitting and suffer some unique to their gender.
While you may believe you’re going into perimenopause, before beginning any treatment, you need to insist that your doctor perform proper testing, which may include an ultrasound. While you may think it’s simply perimenopause, it could just as easily be a fibroid tumor.
What is a fibroid tumor?
A fibroid tumor is a non-cancerous smooth muscle tumor of the uterous. Uterine fibroids are one of the most common medical conditions affecting women. While fibroids are generally harmless and non-symptomatic, they can sometimes grow to very large sizes and cause pain and other complications if not treated. Fibroid tumors are extremely common in women, 1 out of 4 women will develop a fibroid tumor. They’re generally not cancerous and most women are not aware that they have them. Fibroid tumors can develop anywhere inside or outside of the uterus on the ovaries.
Menopause is a topic of great discussion both in medical circles and with women in general!
Let’s start with some definitions:
Perimenopause refers to that time in a woman’s life before the periods completely stop. This can range in time from a few years to 5 years. It is often accompanied by hot flashes, some mood swings including crying easily, to vaginal dryness, sleep changes and osteoporosis.
Menopause refers to the stopping of menstruation. There are no periods for a time of at least 6 months and the woman is not pregnant.
How does it differ from Phytohormones or Phytochemicals?
The most “natural hormone” available is that produced by your own body. When women use hormones for PMS or for perimenopausal or menopausal concerns, they may be synthetic or “natural” hormones.
A synthetic hormone, is biochemically different from your body’s hormones and imitates the actions of a particular hormone. A plant based hormone (which is also synthesized or made usable) is biochemically identical and duplicates the action of the hormone.
A natural and gradual change.
Menopause is the final menstrual period that usually occurs between the ages of 48 to 52. It is not unusual for this to occur earlier or as late as the mid- fifties. Menopause is part of a longer life transition of hormonal change that may start in the early, mid, or late forties and occasionally earlier.
Many use the word menopause to describe the time women experience hormonal fluctuation associated with menstrual changes and hot flashes. This time of adjustment is actually called the Climateric or more commonly perimenopause or mid- life transition. Post menopause occurs 12 months after the last menstrual period.
Approximately 1-4% of the female population has Premature Ovarian Failure (POF). Women are normally born with enough eggs in their ovaries so that they can ovulate each month from their first period until about the age of 50. Around that age the supply of eggs is used up and menopause occurs. For girls and young women with POF, something has happened to their supply of eggs in the ovaries.
This could be happening for a variety of reasons such as loss of eggs, dysfunctional or problem eggs, and if they have had to have their ovaries removed at a young age. This is not a natural process like menopause because it’s happening way too early in life. Premature Ovarian Failure usually occurs to some women under the age of 40 and can happen as early as your teens.
Most women think that menopause doesn’t occur until a woman is in her late forties or early to mid fifties. However, many women and I begin to experience menopause or early menopause symptoms before the age of forty. We mistakenly think we’re too young to begin menopause. So we don’t associate the symptoms we’re experiencing are due to early menopause symptoms.
Early menopause symptoms are basically the same as symptoms associated with natural menopause. However, women who experience symptoms of menopause at an early age should consult with a doctor to ensure that the symptoms are actually early menopause symptoms, and not symptoms of something more serious. You should also note that scientists believe that women who experience early menopause tend to feel the symptoms of menopause more intensely than women who experience natural menopause later in life.
During early menopause, periods become irregular, but bleeding is quite normal. In most cases, there’s no need for concern. Light spotting may also occur. However, there are some instances where bleeding is not normal during early menopause, and treatment should be sought.
Irregular menstrual periods can occur for up to six months in early menopause before the periods stop altogether. Bleeding should not be any heavier than your normal period. In most cases it will be even lighter than normal.
If you begin to bleed again, after you have not had any bleeding for the previous six months, you should seek medical treatment, as this is not normal. The only time this may be normal is if you are just beginning estrogen treatment. If this is the case, your doctor can give you more information as to what you can expect in terms of bleeding.