Written by Krishma Patel, Guest Writer & Pharmacist
Menopause marks an integral phase of a woman’s life after she crosses the age of 40. It indicates the ceasing of the menstrual cycle and eventually ovulation and usually occurs in women who are roughly between the ages of 47 and 53. However, hormonal disturbances and various other factors have been found to trigger premature menopause.
The condition affects one per cent of women worldwide wherein they experience menopause and its symptoms right in their 20s. If that describes you, this article will help answer a lot of questions you might have. Additionally, you can rest assured that treatments like Hormone Replacement Therapy and others effectively help relieve the symptoms of premature menopause.
Symptoms of premature and early menopause
Most of the symptoms of menopause occurring in your 20s are similar to those occurring in women with age. However, some signs could vary from person to person, depending on the cause. That being said, here’s a list of some of the most common symptoms of early menopause:
- Vaginal dryness
- Lower libido
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Bone loss
What causes premature menopause?
These common symptoms are not a reliable diagnosis of early menopause because you could have other unrecognized symptoms as well. In that case, you should look at what might be the possible cause of your condition, including:
- Genetic conditions – A family history of premature menopause or genetic diseases like Turner’s syndrome or galactosaemia confirm the occurrence of early menopause in about 5 to 30 per cent of women.
- Viral infections – Despite the lack of proof, it has been noticed that illnesses like HIV, mumps, cytomegalovirus, tuberculosis, malaria and other viruses are potentially triggering ovarian changes in many women, causing premature menopause.
- Smoking – Cigarettes have proven to affect the reproductive cycle and eventually the hormonal balance in women who are regular smokers.
- Ovarian surgery – Undergoing surgical removal of ovaries due to cancer, endometriosis, etc., is one of the leading causes of premature menopause.
- Unknown causes – Medically recognized as idiopathic premature menopause, this is a situation wherein the cause of your condition remains unknown even after an appropriate diagnosis.
What are the potential health concerns of premature menopause?
Like every other condition, when left untreated due to a lack of awareness or resources, early menopause can lead to some potential health issues and further complications, including:
- Heart disease – Lower estrogen levels cause changes in your blood vessels, possibly marking a higher risk of heart problems.
- Infertility – Ceasing of ovulation, menstrual cycle and an overall lack of estrogen makes it difficult for women with early menopause to get pregnant.
- Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses – Drastic hormonal changes are also the worrying cause for significant emotional shifts and triggering of mental health diseases.
How is early menopause diagnosed?
Medical science suggests that the best possible way of diagnosing premature menopause is to observe the regularity or irregularity of your menstrual cycle. Additionally, if you begin having any symptoms of menopause, contact your doctor for tests to check the condition and functioning of your ovaries.
Treatment for premature menopause
Once the diagnosis reveals and confirms the presence of premature menopause, the next best step is to consider effective treatments. The harsh truth remains that there is no known treatment to reverse or prevent it. However, some solutions can potentially control the unpleasant symptoms. These include:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy – The lack of your body’s ability to produce sufficient estrogen due to menopause gives rise to various symptoms. HRT is a treatment that helps relieve several discomforts of menopause by replacing and fulfilling the low level of estrogen production in your body.
- Oral contraceptive pills – Since one of the causes of premature menopause could be ovarian insufficiency, taking contraceptive pills could help lower the symptoms. These pills contain a combination of estrogen and progesterone and help maintain the hormonal balance.
- Regular screenings – These are essential to make sure that your heart, bones, and thyroid continue to remain healthy. These screenings will also help recognize and prevent further complications due to early menopause.
If you have made it so far, you must have a fair idea of what constitutes menopause in your 20s. It is, however, ideal to seek professional guidance for treatments that will work best for you.
About the Author
Krishma Patel is the Co-founder and the Superintendent Pharmacist at MedsNow, an online pharmacy in the UK that provides health and wellness products and treatments along with free online consultations. She is passionate about showcasing the integral function community pharmacies can play in supporting the healthcare system and the NHS by providing patients with high quality, safe and discreet access to healthcare at their convenience. Along with being the co-founder of MedsNow, Krishma is also the Director and the Superintendent Pharmacist of Enimed Ltd., an independent pharmacy group comprising 32 branches.