Early menopause is the cessation of reproductive activity in women under 40 years of age. The ovaries stop working. Ovulation no longer occurs and, finally, the rules disappear. Early menopause is also known as a premature ovarian failure. Experts recommend that you talk about IOP.
Primary or premature ovarian insufficiency is a cause of infertility in approximately 1% of women. The symptoms and consequences of early menopause are similar to those seen in postmenopausal women older than 50 years.
What is precocious menopause?
Early menopause is the end of a woman’s fertile life at an age that is considered premature. That is before she is 40 years old. Some women are even affected by early menopause before age 30. The average age of menopause in the USA is around 51 years.
Early menopause is the end of the ovarian function. The consequences of this loss are the following:
- The ovary stops producing estradiol.
- The rules become irregular before disappearing.
- Ovulation is no longer produced and the woman is no longer fertile.
Causes of premature ovarian failure
The main cause of early menopause (as a physiological phenomenon that marks the end of reproductive capacity) is premature ovarian insufficiency. It is caused by different factors often difficult to determine.
The causes of premature menopause are sometimes obvious, such as in the case of the removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy or oophorectomy). We will list below all the possible causes of early menopause in women:
- Genetic alterations, for example, women with Turner syndrome or fragile X syndrome.
- Family history, if the woman’s mother or sister has already suffered, there is a greater chance that the IOP will be reproduced in the same family.
- Autoimmune diseases, hypothyroidism or rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system produces antibodies against the ovary, which destroys or damages the ovarian reserve.
- Toxic substances, pesticides, alcohol, tobacco, solvents, etc.
- Viral infections, such as malaria or chickenpox
- Treatments against cancer, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Depending on the intensity of these treatments, the ovarian failure can be reversible or permanent.
- Surgeries, if the ovaries are removed at the same time as the uterus and the fallopian tubes during a hysterectomy. Partial resection of the ovary for the treatment of endometriosis or teratoma is also possible. However, it is not always possible to know the causes that lead a woman to suffer early menopause. This is called an idiopathic IOP.
Diagnosis of idiopathic IOP
The first alarm will sound when menstrual disorders occur, or even the disappearance of menstruation. In this case, it is advisable to go to a gynecological consultation to confirm the cause of this phenomenon.
Thereafter, a blood test will be necessary to evaluate the patient’s hormonal assays. Low levels of estradiol, combined with high levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), will confirm that the woman has early menopause.
Symptoms of early menopause
The symptoms experienced by women with early menopause are very similar to those that occur during the climacteric period for older women. Most of them are caused by a lack of estrogen.
Amenorrhea or absence of menstruation is the most characteristic symptom, especially when it comes to young women who usually do not have menstrual disorders.
The alterations of the menstruation begin a few months before the arrival of the menopause; changes occur in the appearance of the losses and their duration until the bleeding does not return.
Other characteristic symptoms of premature ovarian failure are:
- Hot flushes
- Night Sweats
- Sleep disorders
- Palpitations and tachycardia
- Emotional disorders: depression, irritability, etc.
- Vaginal dryness and dry skin
- Dyspareunia, pain during sex
- Decreased sexual desire
- Urinary problems: incontinence, irritability of the bladder, infections, etc.
- Weight gain: abdominal fat accumulation.
Treatment of ovarian failure
There is no treatment that can restore its function to the ovaries. However, it is essential that the woman receives hormone therapy once the early menopause is diagnosed. It will be possible to alleviate the effects of menopause. It also prevents the risks of hormonal deficiency by fighting against low levels of estrogen.
The main solution is, therefore, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This treatment is usually reduced to a prescription of estrogen. It is also possible to use the combined contraceptive pill (estrogen-progesterone) or the estrogen-progestin pill.
There are also natural therapies without hormones. Those therapies are useful to combat the symptoms of menopause. For example, soy isoflavones and hops phytoestrogens are full of many beneficial properties. Finally, regular diet and physical activity are essential to maintaining good health for postmenopausal women.