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Early menopause, also known as Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), is diagnosed when women under 40 experiences irregular or absent periods for more than four months, along with high levels of gonadotropins (FSH >40 iu/l) on two separate tests at least 4-6 weeks aparts.  It affects approximately 1% of women worldwide, making it a relatively rare but significant issue that can have a profound impact on a woman’s overall health and well-being.

Read this blog to learn about Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI): causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Get expert insights for managing POI effectively.

Causes of Early Menopause

While the exact cause of early menopause is often unknown, there are several factors that can increase a woman’s risk of experiencing it. These factors can be broadly categorized into medical conditions and other contributing elements.

Medical Conditions

  • Autoimmune diseases: Certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease, can disrupt the normal functioning of the immune system, leading to damage to the ovaries and premature ovarian failure.
  • Genetic disorders: Genetic abnormalities, such as Turner syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, can interfere with the development and function of the ovaries, increasing the likelihood of early menopause.
  • Infections: Viral infections, particularly mumps, can cause inflammation and damage to the ovaries, potentially leading to early menopause, although this is quite rare.
  • Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, used to treat various types of cancer, can damage the ovaries and cause early menopause. The extent of damage depends on the type of cancer, the treatment regimen, and the woman’s age.

Other Factors

  • Family history: Women with a family history of early menopause are more likely to experience it themselves. The presence of one or more close relatives with early menopause significantly increases a woman’s risk.
  • Smoking: Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of early menopause. The harmful chemicals in cigarettes can damage the ovaries and accelerate the decline of egg production.
  • Low body weight: Women with very low body weight may be at an increased risk of early menopause. This is likely due to the impact of low body weight on hormone levels and overall reproductive health.
  • Ethnicity: Studies have shown that women of African American, Hispanic, and Asian descent are more likely to experience early menopause compared to Caucasian women. The reasons for these ethnic disparities are not fully understood but may be related to genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms of Early Menopause

The most prominent symptom of early menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for at least 4 consecutive months. This disruption in the menstrual cycle is caused by a decline in the production of oestrogen and progesterone, the female sex hormones.

In addition to the cessation of menstruation, women with early menopause may experience a range of other symptoms, including:

  • Hot flashes: Sudden, intense sensations of heat that spread throughout the body, often accompanied by sweating, flushing, and palpitations.
  • Night sweats: Excessive sweating during sleep, leading to sleep disturbances and disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Vaginal dryness: A decrease in vaginal lubrication, causing discomfort during sexual intercourse and increasing the risk of vaginal infections.
  • Irregular periods: Prior to the complete cessation of menstruation, women with early menopause may experience irregular periods, with prolonged or shortened cycles and variations in bleeding patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping: Changes in hormone levels can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia, restless sleep, and daytime fatigue.
  • Mood swings: Emotional fluctuations, including irritability, anxiety, and depression, may occur due to hormonal imbalances.
  • Reduced libido: A decline in sexual desire and interest in sexual activity is common among women with early menopause.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Hormonal changes can affect brain function, leading to problems with focus, memory, and concentration.
  • Hair loss: Thinning hair and increased hair loss may occur due to hormonal changes and nutritional imbalances.

women should focus on lifestyle changes like a balanced diet, enough calcium and vitamin D, regular exercise, no smoking, and limiting alcohol. Treating Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) involves using hormones, which can help with symptoms and reduce the long-term risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cognitive issues.

It’s advised for women with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) to take hormones until their natural menopause age unless there’s a reason not to. The aim is to keep hormone levels normal. Visit pauseandcohealthcare.com for expert guidance managing Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) and other menopausal health concerns.

Nadira Awal

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