What is Early (Premature) Menopause?

what is early (premature) menopause?

The menopause is a natural phase for every woman, and it happens when the ovaries no longer produce oestrogen, resulting in more irregular periods, which is called the perimenopause phase.

Perimenopause usually occurs around the age of 45 to 55 and when there has not been a period for one entire year, this is marked as the transition into the menopause phase.

Although, there are certain lifestyles, illnesses or medical procedures that can damage the ovaries, which prevents oestrogen from being produced and this prematurely puts a woman into menopause, even before the age of 40. This is called a premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) and more commonly known as early or ‘premature’ menopause.

Typically, the reasons that women will be more susceptible to early menopause are:

  • Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapies.
  • Has had any prior or ongoing reproductive and/or hormonal health issues.
  • Autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism, graves’ disease or lupus.
  • A oophorectomy has been performed (removal of ovaries)
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Unable to conceive, for an entire year.
  • Smoking

Lifestyle is a huge factor of early menopause. Today there is a huge pressure to be thin, which for many women leads them to turn to restricted eating patterns and over exercising. Women who have a very low body mass tend to enter into early menopause because oestrogen is stored in fat tissue and simply, if a woman doesn’t hold enough fat mass on her body, she will have less oestrogen stored.

It is also reported that women who eat a mostly high fat, low fibre diet of animal products such as meat and dairy, can result in the fallopian tubes becoming clogged with mucus which also prevents oestrogen being released from the ovaries.

How Is Early Menopause Diagnosed?

Usually it is the menopause symptoms that can indicate if a woman has entered into early menopause but most women still want a confirmation from their doctor.

A routine physical examination of drawing blood can be performed by a doctor, to test for pregnancy or thyroid disease. Oestrogen levels may also be tested to give an indication of the current functioning of the ovaries and if the levels are low, this can suggest that the menopause has begun.

Another test can also be done, which is measuring the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This the hormone that causes the ovaries to produce oestrogen. When the ovaries slow their production of oestrogen, FSH levels increase above a certain level. This can also indicate the menopause. It is also possible to be tested for an underactive thyroid by examining the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). When TSH levels are too high, the symptoms are very similar to the menopause.

What changes occur for women in Early Menopause?

The biggest change for women experiencing early menopause will be a lowered oestrogen level. This can lead to health issues such as lower bone density, higher cholesterol and higher blood pressure. Other changes that may occur are risks of colon and ovarian cancer, dental issues, and cataract formation.

Fortunately, there is much less risk of these occurring if a wholesome diet, regular exercise and relaxation is prioritised on a daily basis. 

How Is Early Menopause Treated?

The symptoms and health risks of early menopause, as well as the emotional issues that may result from it, can be managed with the methods similar to those used for treating a natural menopause. Women dealing with infertility, brought on by early menopause, may want to discuss their options with a doctor or with a hormone/reproductive specialist.

Can Early Menopause Be Reversed?

The good news is, a woman can be relieved from early menopause if she pays attention to supporting her natural oestrogen production.

This means changing to a phytoestrogen-rich wholesome plant based food intake, enjoying a healthy and gentle amount of exercise, stopping smoking and being mindful to keep stress levels low. By practicing these, it is absolutely possible to replenish the body’s natural reproductive power, and by default, reversing any sign of the menopause.

This type of lifestyle will also protect the bones, brain, muscles, thyroid and glands, as it calms inflammation which is said to trigger various autoimmune conditions such as hypothyroidism, graves’ disease or lupus.

Plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, grains and pulses are the spark plugs for the human body, without these being ingested in generous amounts the body increases its energy, dissolve any mucus that is clogging the reproductive system and the ovaries begin to produce oestrogen naturally again.

The only scenario that suggests early menopause cannot be reversed, is if a woman undergoes an oophorectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes the ovaries and triggers immediate surgical menopause.

If you would like further help or advice about early menopause, please speak to your doctor or local health practitioner.


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