Do I need to know about menopause in my 20s?
The answer is YES! While the average age of a woman who experiences menopause is in her late 40s or early 50s, menopause can occur earlier. If it happens before age 40, it is called premature menopause. Sometimes menopause occurs even earlier in life when a woman is in her 20s or 30s because of primary ovarian insufficiency. Primary ovarian insufficiency, or POI, occurs when the ovaries don’t sufficiently produce estrogen. This can happen naturally, for medical reasons, or can be a result of surgery if both ovaries are removed.
If you miss your period for more than 3 months and aren’t pregnant, talk with your doctor. Premature menopause can’t be diagnosed until a woman misses her period for 12 months, but your doctor may want to do blood tests to assess your health.
Hot flushes are a symptom often experienced in the initial stages of menopause when estrogen levels are fluctuating.
Premature menopause affects nearly 4% of women. If you aren’t yet in your 40s and have premature menopause, you may be experiencing menopause symptoms. These symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, low sex drive, body aches, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering things, vaginal dryness, painful sex, weight gain, mood changes, and changes to your cholesterol levels. Hot flushes are a symptom often experienced in the initial stages of menopause when estrogen levels are fluctuating. It is a sudden wave of heat typically affecting the face or upper body. You might just start sweating or waking during the night drenched in sweat. Talk with your doctor about options for reducing any of these symptoms if they are bothersome.
There are also things you can do to protect your future physical and mental health. When estrogen levels reduce during menopause, it can impact the heart, bones, and sexual health. Lower hormone levels because of premature menopause can affect these parts of the body sooner if extra care is not taken. For example, hormone therapy can keep the heart and bones healthy and prevent premature aging until the typical age when menopause would occur. Also, if children are desired, talk with your doctor and fertility specialists to understand your options.
Premature menopause can alter life plans in many ways. If this affects you, you are not alone. Talk with your doctor to determine which treatments are right for you to help keep your heart, bones, emotions, and self-esteem healthy.