The average age of women who is going through full cycle of menopause is 51. While most people associate menopause with older women, it can occur in younger women as well. Indeed, some women may suffer the premature menopause (commonly mistaken as early onset menopause) as early as in their 30s.
Imagine the emotional affect of it to these young women. Not to mention the symptoms associated with menopause, the experience of this premature cycle may add another level of emotion that could be just as overwhelming. Early menopause can cause great anxiety.
People often referred early onset menopause as premature menopause or vice versa. But, actually they are different. Any women who is in the full cycle of menopause before age 40, is considered to be experiencing premature menopause. On the other hand, women who is going through full cycle of menopause before age 45, is considered to have an early menopause.
Smoking and never conceived, premature ovarian failure, total or partial hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, thyroidectomy, anorexia and bulimia disorder all can lead to premature menopause and early onset menopause.
The symptoms of early onset menopause are similar to those of normal menopause. And like normal menopause, many early menopause symptoms also result from decrease in production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Some of the early onset menopause symptoms include:
- Fragile bones This causes less absorption of calcium which leads to bone fractures and menopause related osteoporosis. Thus, she should include calcium in her diet, in the form of leafy vegetables, soy products and supplements.
- Hot flashes and night sweats Hot flashes and night sweats usually occur due to constraint of blood vessels. It’ll make the sufferer becomes restless and not enough sleep will cause a person feeling irritable and tired.
- Dry skin and burning sensation Other early onset menopause symptoms include dry skin and a continual burning sensation or hot flashes on the body. Applying moisturizer all over the body can alleviate this.
- Loss of elasticity in body tissues Due to this women experience many menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, painful intercourse and a general lack of interest in sexual matters.
- Frequent urination Women may get an urge to urinate more frequently due to some loss of bladder control.
- Headaches and body aches
- Memory loss and depression
There’re several conditions and diseases that can cause premature menopause and early menopause.
- Smoking and never conceived Early onset menopause often occurs in women who smoke regularly and those who have never became pregnant.
- Premature ovarian failure and early menopause In which one body’s immune system attacks itself causing the ovaries to stop functioning thus induce early menopause.
- Premature menopause after total or partial hysterectomy If one have had surgery either to remove the ovaries or a full hysterectomy, her hormone levels drop instantly and she will experience instant onset of menopause. Even if she does not have her ovaries removed during a hysterectomy, ovaries can be damaged during surgery or the blood flow to the ovaries may be affected resulting in early or premature menopause.
- Cancer Treatment and early menopause Chemotherapy and radiation treatment might damage the ovarian cells and cause premature or early onset menopause.
- Early onset menopause after total thyroidectomy A thyroidectomy can cause early menopause in women. This is evidenced by reports from some women who experience early onset menopause after total thyroidectomy, but most of the cases occur in women above 40’s; who are already experiencing some symptoms of perimenopause prior to the procedure.
- Anorexia, Bulimia and early menopause Excessive weight loss associated with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia may also result in early onset menopause.
The line of treatment to deal with premature or early menopause symptoms varies from a woman to woman and relies on the individual’s needs and physical health. One can alleviate or maybe nullify symptoms of early onset menopause by accommodating a healthier life style. And, life can be as healthy, independent and fulfilling as any of the younger stages of a woman by proper diets, exercise and habits. Here are a few tips:
Follow a healthy diet.
A healthy diet improves a woman’s sense of well-being. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis (porous bones) and some cancers. A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetable, whole grains, calcium and vitamin D can help to cope with early menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
- Include a variety of fresh fruits, vegetable, whole grains and low in saturated fats and fatty acids in your diet, such as leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, citrus fruits, apples, berries, plums, etc.
- Avoid dairy and animal products that are high in fat, commercial baked goods, hard margarines and salt intake.
- Consume low fat diary products with high calcium content to compensate for the loss of calcium due to onset of the early signs of menopause. Also take enough calcium to keep the bones strong and prevent osteoporosis.
- Phytoestrogens are the estrogens available in plant food. Include more of soybeans, tofu, linseed bread, and legumes as these phytoestrogen rich foods can renew the depleting estrogen levels due to early onset menopause.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water daily and reduce intake of caffeine products like coffee, tea, etc. to negate the effects of early onset menopause symptoms.
- Limited consumption of alcohol, less than a glass each day, proves very helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Improve physical fitness.
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart diseases and osteoporosis. It also provides a feeling of emotional well being. 30 minutes of brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing or other simple exercises at least three times a week will help keep your bones healthy, prevent bone loss, reduce weight gain after menopause, improve your heart condition, and develop your overall health. Regular physical activity and exercise also provides a good night’s sleep. Also avoid alcohol, caffeine, large meals and working right before bedtime so that you can have a deep sleep.
A woman’s sexuality is very complicated. It involves physical, social, and emotional responses. Adequate lubrication, a caring and sensitive partner and appropriate positions can help to reduce pain during sex. Emotional satisfaction also help to alleviate many symptoms associated with early onset menopause.
Whether you are in your thirties or forties and just beginning your journey into menopause or are already there, a healthy diet and exercise will relieve many menopausal symptoms.
When you’re uncertain about your condition, you can seek the advice of your doctor to determine if this in fact, premature menopause, early onset menopause or something else. If you’re examined to have premature menopause or early menopause, your doctor might prescribe you with hormone replacement therapy treatment. It’s not a cure for premature menopause or early onset menopause, but it can reduce many symptoms associated with menopause.
The support of family and friends is crucial at this time. It also helps if you join a support group, to help you through this hard time.
Finally, understand and experience the loss. Your feelings and thoughts should be expressed in an honest and straightforward manner. Remember, the onset of premature or early menopause is not your fault; it just simply happens. You will be going through many emotions at this time, and adding guilt to them will not alleviate the pain. There are always alternatives which you can discuss at a later date, but for now, just be good to yourself.