Early Menopause – Before Age 40
Some women have symptoms of menopause earlier than expected. They may stop getting their periods and experience other common problems associated with menopause. There may be no specific reason, however there are a few common factors that may bring on early menopause:
- Medical treatments, including surgery to remove the ovaries.
- Chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area, which can damage the ovaries.
- Immune system problem where a woman’s own body cells attack her ovaries.
When menopause comes early on its own, it sometimes has been called “premature menopause” or “premature ovarian failure.” A better term is “primary ovarian insufficiency,” which describes the decreased activity in the ovaries. In some cases, women have ovaries that still make hormones from time to time, and their menstrual periods return. Some women can even become pregnant after the diagnosis.
For women who want to have children and can’t, early menopause can be a source of great distress. Learn more about treatments to help with getting pregnant in our NetWellness Infertility topic. Women who want to become mothers but can’t get pregnant may talk with their doctors about other options, such as donor egg programs or adoption.
Risks of Early Menopause
Early menopause raises your risk of certain health problems including:
- heart disease
Talk to your doctor about ways to protect your health. You might ask about menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). Some researchers think the risks of MHT for younger women might be smaller and the benefits greater than for women who begin MHT at or after the typical age of menopause. Let your doctor know if you are younger than 40 and have symptoms of menopause.
Menopause and Menopause Treatments Fact Sheet – Women’s Health.gov
For more information:
Go to the Menopause health topic.