Menopause takes place when a woman’s ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that regulates a woman’s reproductive cycle. The usual age when a woman begins menopause is anywhere between the ages of 40 and 60, with the average age being 51. When a woman enters menopause before the age of 40, it is considered early or premature menopause.
The health issue that early menopause tells of a woman is that her ovaries have failed to function properly or that they have been removed altogether. Doctors who suspect their patient’s ovaries are beginning to fail may order several tests done on them.
The test that is most crucial for detecting premature menopause is a blood test that measures the amount of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) in the blood system. FSH is the hormone that causes estrogen to be produced in the ovaries. When the level of FSH rises above 40mlU/mL, it is quite likely that the woman is in menopause.
Another blood test doctors run is to find out the level of estradiol in their patient’s system. Estradiol is a form of estrogen, and levels below 30 pg/mL (picograms per milliliter) indicate that she is in menopause.
When tests reveal more serious conditions, the woman may need her ovaries removed, such as with
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer.
- Fallopian tube cancer.
- Severe endometriosis.
- Family history of ovarian or breast cancers.
- Ruptured or chronic bilateral tubo-ovarian abscesses.
- Severe premenstrual syndrome.
In addition to these causes, there are numerous behind-the-scenes causes for ovarian failure or removal.
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What Else Can Bring on Early Menopause?
There are numerous reasons a woman may enter menopause early, these include:
- Smoking – Because of its anti-estrogen effects, smokers, especially long term smokers, are more likely to start menopause earlier than non-smokers.
- Body Mass Index (BMI) – Being that estrogen is stored in fat cells, the less fat cells a woman has in her body, the sooner estrogen levels become depleted. The sooner estrogen levels are depleted, the greater the possibility of going into menopause early. Conversely, it has been found that the more fat cells a woman has may prolong the onset of menopause.
- Genetics. It has been found that a woman is six times more likely to start menopause close to the same age as her mother did. So, if there are no other indicators or medical reasons for premature menopause, find out when your mother started her menopausal phase, and if she started hers early, the chances are good you will as well.
- Defects in chromosomes – A condition called Turner syndrome is when a female is born with an incomplete chromosome, causing the ovaries to function abnormally. Women who have Turner syndrome oftentimes have early onset of menopause.
- Autoimmune disorder; lupus, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis – Autoimmune diseases occur when the autoimmune system starts to attack healthy tissue or organs, thinking they are invaders. The inflammation caused by these diseases can adversely affect the ovaries, causing them to shut down, which in turn can bring on premature menopause.
- Epilepsy. This is a seizure disorder stemming from the brain. Studies have shown that women with epilepsy have a higher risk of early menopause.
- Chemotherapy or radiation. Damage to the ovaries can occur during chemotherapy or radiation treatments. This damage can cause the ovaries to malfunction, causing premature menopause.
- Surgery. Removal of one ovary (single oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy) results in lower amounts of estrogen and progesterone (helps regulate menstrual cycle) in the body which can trigger the early onset of menopause. When both ovaries are removed (bilateral oophorectomy) immediate menopause sets in.
- The in utero exposure of DES (diethylstilbestrol) before 1971 – Millions of female babies were exposed to DES in utero when their mothers were given it to help prevent complications during pregnancy. One of several adverse effects of this exposure is premature menopause.
There are differences in symptoms between early ovarian failure and removal of the ovaries. In early ovarian failure, the symptoms of menopause are quite similar to those that occur when menopause happens at a normal age with the gradual reduction of estrogen and progesterone, such as abnormal periods, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
However, when both ovaries are removed, the symptoms are similar, but begin immediately and are oftentimes more severe in intensity.
If you’re looking for a way to manage the symptoms of your menopause cycle, supplements can be a great option. There are many different types of supplements that are designed specifically for women in menopause or perimenopause, and they can help reduce the symptoms you’re experiencing.
One supplement that may be helpful is Provitalize. Provitalize reviews show that this particular supplement could help diminish the hot flashes you’re experiencing.
Whatever supplement you choose, it’s sure to help make this challenging time a little easier. If you are under 40 years of age and are noticing menopausal symptoms, check with your doctor.
You may want to run tests to rule out more severe conditions that can bring on early menopause, such as those mentioned above. It could be that premature menopause is a red flag to something more serious.