Menopause is a natural process of ageing in which the ovaries stop producing reproductive hormones. Menopause officially begins 12 months after a woman’s last period. Most women begin menopause between 45 and 55 but for some women, it comes earlier. If you are between 35 and 45 and have missed your period for 3 months or more, you may be going through early menopause.
Symptoms of early menopause
- Irregular period
- Absence of periods (amenorrhea)
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Bladder control problems
- Vaginal dryness
- Insomnia/disrupted sleep
- Weight gain (especially around the waist and abdomen)
- Skin changes (dryness, thinning look)
- Tingling or itchy skin
- Buzzing in your head/ electric shock sensation
- Breast tenderness
- Gastrointestinal distress and nausea
- Sore joints/muscles
- Hair loss or thinning
- Increase in facial hair
- Changes in body odour
- Dry mouth and other oral symptoms
- Mental fogginess or difficulty concentrating
- Decreased sex drive/libido
- Memory lapses
- Extreme fatigue/low energy levels
- Confusion/lack of concentration
- Feeling emotionally detached
Risk factors that may contribute to or cause early menopause
- Family history
- Chronic stress
- Being underweight (including eating disorders)
- Excessive physical training
- Toxins (such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy)
- Autoimmune conditions
- Surgery (such as a procedure to remove ovaries or uterus i.e. hysterectomy)
Conditions that can develop as a result of early or premature menopause
Tips to prevent early menopause
- Watch what you eat i.e. cut out processed foods and consume more fruits and vegetables
- Delay ageing by consuming foods rich in antioxidants including fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. Lifestyle: The Benefits Of Nuts And The Most Nutritious Ones To Eat
- Quit smoking.
- Move more. Walking, jogging, yoga, meditation and other forms of physical activity like swimming can make a huge difference in preventing early menopause.
- Fight stress. Chronic stress messes with hormonal production and overall body functions which can cause early menopause. Lifestyle: 5 Simple Tips For Managing Stress
- Treat existing medical conditions such as thyroid problems and diabetes which have a direct effect on hormone production and regulation.
Treatment and management options
Once a doctor makes an official diagnosis of early menopause or premature menopause, the course of treatment will be based on the individual situation. Treatment options include:
- Hormone replacement therapy.
- Herbal treatments mimic hormones and have hormone-balancing properties. Some of these herbs include passionflower, wild yam, ginseng, black cohosh, and ashvaghandha.
- Supplemental calcium and Vitamin D.
- Talk therapy.
- Exercise. It boosts serotonin levels that improve mood, appetite, and also quality of sleep. Exercise also helps maintain muscle mass, prevents weight gain, and strengthens the bones to combat osteoporosis. What Type Of Exercises Are Right For You?
- Dietary changes. The most effective medicine is the food you eat. Try a balanced diet with good fats, complex carbs, and protein. Also, eat lots of fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water.
Each person’s journey is different and while there is a range of how long symptoms of menopause last, it’s not always the case. In general, the transition takes about four years. Most women stop having hot flashes within five years following their final period.