Menopause can be a challenging experience for any woman, but it is especially difficult for women who experience premature menopause (otherwise known as premature ovarian failure). The average age that women in the US go through menopause is 52. Premature menopause describes when menopause occurs before the age of 40. It currently affects roughly 5% of all women in the US.
In addition to familiar menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, women who undergo premature menopause may have additional physical and emotional concerns to consider. For instance, since women who experience premature menopause will live longer with depleted estrogen levels that are associated with menopause, they may be more at risk for health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease. Although many cases of premature menopause can occur without any one obvious cause, there are several factors that can greatly increase a woman’s chances of experiencing premature menopause:
- Women with a family history of premature menopause, whether it be a mother, grandmother, sister, or any other relative can have a higher chance of undergoing premature menopause.
- Surgery to remove the ovaries can lead to periods stopping, estrogen levels decreasing and sudden, strong menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes and decreased sex drive.
- Smoking cigarettes can increase the risk of premature menopause and lead to even more severe menopause symptoms.
- Undergoing cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy can damage the ovaries and cause a halt in menstrual periods, as well as difficulty getting pregnant.
- Certain health conditions and genetic mutations such as autoimmune diseases (including thyroid disease), HIV or AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, or missing chromosomes, can also contribute to premature menopause.
- Gynecological health conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can potentially lead to premature menopause
It is especially important for women who have undergone premature menopause to be diligent and proactive in regard to their reproductive health and wellness. Our hope is that being aware of the prevalence of premature menopause and these risk factors can help women physically and emotionally prepare for the possibility of premature menopause. For more info on premature menopause, menopause, and help improving your symptoms, request an appointment with our gynecological healthcare providers, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. We also encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips, news, updates, and details on our upcoming Health and Wellness events.