by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
If you’re between 40 and 45, the signs of early menopause can be devastating. Not only are you facing unexpected symptoms, such as insomnia, vaginal dryness, and weight gain, but you may have feelings of panic or confusion about why these changes to your body are happening so early. You may also be worried about the health consequences of early menopause.
While it’s true that menopause at any age brings new challenges for almost every woman, I assure you that you have choices that will help you care for both your physical and emotional needs. By paying attention to your symptoms, you’ve already taken the first step to feel better now so you can find your way in the future! And the sooner you get started, the better.
Are you in early menopause?
- Are you between the ages of 40-45?
- Have you experienced an absence of periods for a full 12 months?
- Are you suffering from common symptoms including hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, weight gain, depression, fuzzy thinking or fatigue?
In early menopause, estrogen levels can decline rapidly or sharply — causing symptoms to appear suddenly, to be more severe, or to last longer.
For most women in early menopause, addressing hormonal imbalance is the first step to finding relief. We’ve helped thousands of women do this. Learn more.
What’s the difference between early menopause, perimenopause and premature menopause?
Understanding whether or not you’re in early menopause can be complicated because the many terms describing menopause are often lumped together — even though all are very different:
- Early menopause occurs naturally between the ages of 40 and 45.
- Premature menopause occurs before age 40 in approximately 1% of women.
- Premature ovarian failure (POF) happens when ovaries slow or stop production of mature eggs and reproductive hormones before the age of 40. Between 5–10% of women diagnosed with POF go on to become pregnant without intervention.
- Surgical menopause occurs as a result of hysterectomy, oophorectomy (removal of ovary/ovaries), and some other pelvic surgeries.
- Medical menopause can occur following medical treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and during the course of some drug regimens like tamoxifen (used mostly to prevent recurrence of breast cancer).
We also know it’s easy to confuse perimenopause with early menopause. If you’re experiencing gradually increasing symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue, irritability and weight gain — but are still having periods — you’re experiencing perimenopause, the start of the menopause transition that can last for several years. If you haven’t experienced a period for 12 months and fall into the age group above, you’re in early menopause.