Early menopause is when a woman’s periods stop before the age of 45. For most women, menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55. Read our article below to learn more about early menopause.
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low mood or Anxiety
- Reduced sex drive
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Heart palpitations
- Reduced muscle mass
- Recurrent UTI
What causes early menopause?
The cause of early menopause is often unknown, but it happens when a woman’s ovaries stop making normal levels of certain hormones, particularly the hormone oestrogen. Sometimes early menopause can run in families.
Early menopause can also sometimes be caused by:
- Chromosome abnormalities
- An autoimmune disease
- Certain infections like tuberculosis, malaria, and mumps – but this is very rare
- Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can also cause early menopause. This may be temporary or permanent.
- The Daisy Network – a support group for women with premature ovarian failure
- healthtalk.org – provides information about early menopause, including women talking about their own experiences
- Wearing light clothing
- Keeping your bedroom cool
- Taking a cool shower, using a fan or having a cold drink
- Avoiding potential triggers like spicy foot, caffeine, smoking and alcohol
How is early menopause treated?
The main treatment for early menopause is either the combined contraceptive pill or HRT to make up for the hormones that your uterus is no longer producing. Your GP may recommend that you continue this treatment for the long term – beyond the ‘normal’ age of menopause (around 52). Your GP will also talk to you about other treatment options and lifestyle changes you can make to help protect your health.
If you have had certain types of cancer, such as certain types of breast cancer, you may not be able to have hormonal treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with depression as a result of the menopause, you might be prescribed antidepressants.
You may also experience reduced sexual desire as a result of menopause, but HRT can often help with this. If HRT isn’t effective, you might be offered a testosterone supplement. While testosterone is a male sex hormone, it can help to restore sex drive in menopausal women. Testosterone does have some side effects though, like acne and unwanted hair growth.
Menopause can also cause vaginal dryness. Your doctor may prescribe oestrogen that is put directly into the vagina as a pessary, cream or vaginal ring.
Alternative remedies & self-help:
Going through early menopause can be very difficult and upsetting. Counselling and support groups may be helpful.
Here are some you may want to try:
If you experience hot flushes and night sweats, simple measures may sometimes help, such as:
Some women experience mood swings, low mood or anxiety as a result of menopause.
Getting plenty of rest, doing regular exercise and doing relaxing activities such as yoga and tai chi may help. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of talking therapy that can help to improve low mood and feelings of anxiety.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness you might want to try using personal lubricants or moisturisers that you can get over the counter.
If you are concerned by your increased risk of osteoporosis you might want to try regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol, and taking Vitamin D and Calcium supplements.
Alternative treatments like herbal remedies and bioidentical hormones aren’t recommended because it’s generally unclear how safe and effective they are.