Has your period gone AWOL? Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night drenched in your own sweat? Or maybe you notice that you are not as sharp as you used to? These are just common symptoms experienced by a postmenopausal woman.
However, if you are not even at your golden years yet and you start to experience these symptoms, then you may have reason to be concerned. If you are in your 30’s or younger and you nod your head on the previous questions, then it is time you know about early menopausal.
What is menopause?
Most women experience menopause at ages 45 to 55. When it happens before the age of 40, it is referred to as early menopause.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries call it quits and stops producing estrogen, a hormone which controls the whole reproductive cycle. If a woman does not have her period for over 12 months, then she is in menopause.
5 Reasons for Early Menopause
There are several known causes of an early menopause, although there are times when the main cause cannot be determined. Here are the most common reasons as to why early menopause happens:
It might be in the genes. There are particular genetic disorders which are associated with premature ovarian failure. Maybe your mom or grandmother had an early menopause and it just runs in the family.
Research has shown that as many as 20% of women who experience an early menopause have a family member who also experienced it.
- Radiation and Chemotherapy
If you have undergone radiation therapy or chemo, then it is possible that this is the culprit to cause your early menopausal symptoms. Chemotherapy and radiation can actually block your ovarian function. However, some women do not actually experience symptoms of early menopause until they are well beyond the therapy, say at least 2 years later.
- Autoimmune Diseases
A premature menopause can be a sign or symptom of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s Disease, and thyroid diseases. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistook a part of the body as an invader and automatically attacks it.
In the case of an Addison’s Disease, the adrenal gland cannot produce enough amounts of hormones. These can trigger an immune attack on the follicles of your ovaries (small sacs where eggs grow and mature), ultimately interfering with their ability to function.
- Environmental Toxins
There are particular environmental toxins which definitely affect our ovaries and impair their functions.
Smoking, for instance, do you no favor in terms of your hormonal health. Cigarette smoking or living in an area which exposes you to pesticides and harmful toxins can actually put you to a higher risk of premature ovarian failure or the onset or early menopause.
- Brain Trauma
Sometimes, the only reason why we lose our ovarian function has nothing to do with our ovaries alone. In general, the brain controls every other organ. In order for your ovaries to do a proper job, the brain needs to tell them exactly what to do, orchestrating your hormone.
Anything which affects the brain function can affect how your brain communicates with your ovaries. What I mean is that if you have had a head injury, brain surgery or any autoimmune disease which directly affect your brain tissue or even just causes inflammation, then these might cause you to have an irregular or extended missed period, ultimately pointing to early menopausal.
5 Signs of Early Menopause
Although there are numerous signs of symptoms of an early menopause, here 5 signs that you should never ignore:
- Decreased libido or interest in sex
- Mood swings or irritability
- Hot flashes or the sudden warm feeling that spreads over the upper body
- Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant
- Irregular or skipped periods for 4 months
Once menopause has set in, it is highly unlikely to be reversed. No woman wants to experience menopause at such a young age; however, when you draw the short straw and started menopause earlier than usual, then you can try certain hormonal treatments and supplements to help you manage the process.