Understanding Early Onset Menopause

by Amy Pusey
(last updated November 15, 2011)

When it comes to menopause, it was not so long ago that doctors treated it as an emotional condition prescribing anti-depressants instead of realizing it had real hormonal and physical factors. Now, doctors have real treatments that include synthetic hormone replacement drugs. For those unfamiliar with menopause, in general, it is the point when a woman's body begins to cycle down in its reproductive role and no longer produces eggs from the ovaries and the menstruation process draws to an end. Typically, this begins to occur when a woman reaches her 50s. So, what is early menopause you may be thinking?

Early menopause occurs in women under the age of 45 and is quite shocking to women. Unfortunately, it is more common that most of us realize. This is a traumatic condition for young women to experience because it indicates the end of their child-bearing opportunities. And, it happens suddenly immediately impacting hormone (estrogen) levels causing them to rapidly decline anywhere from a period of days to months. In addition to natural changes occurring in the body, early menopause has several other contributing causes:

  • Hysterectomy or Oophorectomy. They involve the partial or complete removal of the reproductive organs.
  • Chemotherapy or radiation. Medications often related to cancer treatments.
  • Reactions to medication. Drugs can have differentiating side effects depending on the individual.
  • Autoimmune disorder. May cause premature ovarian failure (POF).
  • Anorexia. An eating disorder that causes extensive weight loss and damages vital organs.

Due to the dramatic impact of this physical change, quite often there is also a severe emotional and/or psychological reaction to the news and it is important for a woman to seek professional help to learn the necessary coping skills. In addition, counseling may be recommended for couples, since the news is also devastating to the partner in the relationship who also planned on having children together as a couple. Support, from any source, is critical in helping affected women and couples come to terms with the news. A woman may actually go through a period of grieving, and this is normal and she should not be denied that opportunity.

Symptoms experienced during early menopause may be similar to those that occur during normal menopause, including:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Other symptoms may present themselves, and for some women no symptoms may develop. Each woman's body reacts to the hormonal changes on its own accord. Treatment for symptoms may, for example, include: hormonal replacement therapy, dietary changes, or anti-depressants, either alone or in any combination.

The bottom line is, when it comes down to it there is no cure for early menopause. The best treatment a woman can obtain is support from loved ones and to learn effective coping skills. When applied in tandem, the realization of the impact of the physical changes may become less devastating over time.

Author Bio

Amy Pusey

With over 18 years experience in operations and human-resource management, Amy Pusey uses her skills in her consulting and freelance writing activities. She is a freelance writer for Tips.net, as well as a resume writer for GreenThumbResumes.com. ...

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