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.
Genetics also plays a role, as premenopause generally is passed down through generations of women within a family. In any case, this means that those who experience menopause early on in their lives may find menopause very depressing and life-changing especially considering the infertility aspect of early menopause. Because of the early onset of menopause, this extends the length of postmenopause and these women may need to start a hormone replacement therapy regimen.
The terminology surrounding menopause can be confusing and tricky. The truth is, a woman’s body produces hormones at varying levels throughout life. At some point the levels of estrogen start to decrease. This is generally referred to as the perimenopausal stage. Perimenopause has its own range of symptoms, and usually sets in around the age of 30 -35. Premenopause is often used interchangeably with perimenopause and early menopause. There are no hard and fast rules as women progress though the stages of life at their own pace. Even in the event of early menopause, it often occurs naturally with no abnormal cause.
Women may not realize it, but although it is true that menopause is a natural part of life and not a disease or condition, the lifestyle choices made throughout life can have a pronounced effect on the severity of menopausal symptoms. Some women pass though menopause with hardly a second glance, while others are plagued by night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, and other unpleasant symptoms. It is generally thought that the healthier and balanced one’s body, the easier the transition though menopause because the body is better able to cope with the hormonal fluctuations.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes getting enough daily exercise, eating a proper diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. In addition, keeping a positive outlook and managing depression is important at this time of life as fluctuating hormones can start a cycle of depression, stress, and irritability.
It is often assumed the premenopause means saying goodbye to beauty and youth, however the reality is, menopause is just the start of another phase of life which has the potential to be just as beautiful and fulfilling.
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