Menopause - Early Onset
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Early Menopause and Peri-menopause
Usually, women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. However, if this occurs before the age of 40, then the woman is said to have premature or early menopause.
What is Peri-Menopause?
The term 'perimenopause' is used to define the time around the transition into menopause. Even though you are still menstruating, you may begin to experience the signs and symptoms of menopause. Hormone levels tend to fall and rise erratically, and this leads to hot flashes. You could also experience irregular bleeding, vaginal dryness and thinning of the tissues near the vagina and urethra. Also referred to as climacteric, this condition may last four to five years.
If you cross 12 months without a period after your last one, then it means that you are well into menopause.
The time after this stage is known as the post-menopausal stage. The ovaries now hardly produce any oestrogen and progesterone, the female hormones.
While menopause can be managed, premature or sudden menopause is a matter of concern. This could occur due to Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), sometimes caused by an autoimmune disorder. In this condition, the body sends out antibodies that target the reproductive system, leading to complete cessation of the ovarian function.
Early menopause can also occur due to surgery, when the ovaries (oophorectomy), uterus, and the fallopian tubes (hysterectomy) are removed. Early menopause can also result if the individual is suffering from ovarian cancer. The symptoms of early menopause are the same as normal menopause symptoms, as mentioned earlier. However, besides the sudden nature of the problem, the intensity could also be greater.
There is also the emotional trauma of losing one's fertility during one's childbearing years. Your doctor will be the best person to seek help from, if you are going through early menopause. Most doctors recommend the use of an oestrogen patch, on women who have undergone oophorectomy. This is worn on the skin and releases oestrogen through the skin to the body in a time bound manner. This patch relieves hot flashes and night sweats.
There are other forms of hormone replacement therapy, which you can discuss with your doctor
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