Menopause typically happens when a woman is in her late forties or early fifties. However, sometimes women in their thirties go through menopause. This is known as early menopause.
Early menopause can cause a wide variety of symptoms – physical, mental, and emotional. Some women struggle to cope with premature menopause, while others find it a relief. Early menopause symptoms are usually treatable. Here’s what you need to know about premature menopause.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN EARLY MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK FOR?
Early menopause symptoms are the same as the symptoms of regular menopause. Here are a few of the main symptoms to look out for.
1. YOU STOP HAVING REGULAR PERIODS.
When your periods stop occurring regularly, it’s often a sign that you’re on your way to menopause. You might skip periods, or your periods might come earlier than you expected. You might also notice that your bleeding is heavier or lighter than usual.
2. YOU HAVE HOT FLASHES.
Hot flashes are another of the most common early menopause symptoms. A hot flash is exactly what it sounds like – you feel hot for no apparent reason. Sometimes hot flashes can make you feel cold after you feel hot. Hot flashes often occur at night.
3. YOUR SEX DRIVE GOES DOWN.
Many women report that their libido decreases when they go through menopause. You may also notice that intercourse becomes painful because your body doesn’t produce as much natural lubrication when you’re aroused. (You can fix this by using a lubricating gel.)
4. YOUR MOODS ARE UP AND DOWN.
You might feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster during menopause. Anxiety, sadness, and even depression are all common emotional side effects of the hormonal changes happening in your body.
5. IT BECOMES HARDER TO CONTROL YOUR BLADDER.
A common (but rarely discussed) symptom of menopause is urinary incontinence. You might find that you need to use the restroom more often or that you have difficulty holding in your urine.
6. YOU NOTICE OTHER CHANGES IN YOUR BODY.
Menopause can bring on a whole host of physical changes, some of them unexpected. For instance, you might notice that your fat distribution changes – you might start carrying more weight on your torso, even if you didn’t before. Some women also notice that their hair and skin get drier and their joints become achy.
HOW IS EARLY MENOPAUSE DIAGNOSED?
If you think you might be going through premature menopause, make an appointment with your doctor. They can run tests to confirm menopause and rule out any other explanations for your symptoms.
You can expect your doctor to run several tests. One is a blood test to make sure you don’t have any other conditions behind your symptoms. Another is an estradiol test, which measures the amount of estrogen in your body. Finally, your doctor will run a test to find out how much follicle stimulating hormone is in your blood. High levels of this hormone indicate that you’re in menopause.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT EARLY MENOPAUSE?
If you are going through premature menopause, there’s not much you can do to prevent it. Sometimes the body simply decides to go through menopause early. But while you can’t stop menopause from happening, you can treat the physical and emotional side effects it brings. Here are some of the main ways you can make the transition easier.
1. EAT A HEALTHY DIET.
You’ll feel better, both physically and emotionally, when you eat a nutritious diet. In particular, focus on consuming plenty of foods that contain calcium and vitamin D. You’re more vulnerable to osteoporosis after menopause, and these foods will help strengthen your bones.
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY.
Working out can help you battle the blues that often come with menopause. Getting regular exercise is also a good way to avoid menopause-induced weight gain.
3. AVOID FOODS THAT CAUSE HOT FLASHES.
Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are all known to make hot flashes worse. If these foods trigger hot flashes for you, don’t eat them.
4. ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT HORMONE THERAPY.
If your hot flashes are difficult to live with, estrogen therapy might help. Ask your doctor if this is an appropriate option for you.
5. STAY HYDRATED.
Menopause can dry out your skin, hair, and nails. Drinking plenty of water can help to offset this dryness.
6. REACH OUT FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT.
If you feel depressed or helpless about going through menopause, reach out to your family, friends, or health care professionals for help. You may find that talking to a therapist – or just seeking out extra social support – helps you feel better.
Early menopause can be caused by many things, from autoimmune disorders to radiation treatment. Sometimes it happens for no obvious reason at all. While early menopause symptoms can be difficult to get through, plenty of women do – and you will, too.
If you’re going through premature menopause, don’t hesitate to look for support. This is a common issue that many other women have experienced. In time, you’ll adjust to your new normal, and you’ll feel better again.