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Early or Premature Menopause - What causes it?

Some people feel their life is over by the time they are 40 whereas some still feel young at 70. Time is a concept that humans created. That being said, menopause is a chance to get to know ourselves better.

Premature menopause occurs when the ovaries are not functioning properly and they stop producing eggs or produce very few eggs for years or even decades before midlife. Women experience menopause around the age of 51 generally but may begin to experience symptoms of perimenopause for 7-10 years before their periods stop completely.

Early and premature menopause can be similar to menopause. The only difference is the age at which it happens.

The indications aren't usually obvious when you reach premature or early menopause. Maybe you're moody, but who isn't? Possibly hot flashes have begun, or maybe not. In fact, you may not even be aware of what hot flashes feel like. You begin to have irregular periods or periods that are substantially longer or shorter than usual. Other signs of early menopause may include heavy bleeding, spotting, periods that last more than a week, and a prolonged time between cycles.

What are the causes of early menopause?

1. Surgery to remove ovaries

A bilateral oophorectomy, or surgical removal of both ovaries, may result in menopausal symptoms there and then. After this procedure, your periods may stop and your hormone levels may rapidly decline. You may experience severe menopausal symptoms, such as intense hot flashes and decreased sexual drive.

2. Autoimmune diseases

Although rare, disorders such as thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis can impair the body's immune system, which generally fights off illnesses and may falsely target the ovaries, preventing them from producing hormones.

3. Chemotherapy

Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can harm your ovaries and induce premature menopause. Menopause may occur immediately or months following treatment. The type and amount of chemo medication you are taking determines your chance of early menopause. The younger you are, the less likely you are to experience early menopause as a result of chemo.

4. Radiation treatments

Radiation in the pelvic area might also harm your ovaries. In some situations, your ovaries may recover and resume functioning. However, if you receive a high radiation exposure, the harm may be irreversible.

5. Surgery to remove the uterus

Some hysterectomy patients can retain their ovaries. Because your ovaries continue to generate hormones, you will not experience menopause right away. However, because the procedure can sometimes interrupt the blood supply to the ovaries, you may get hot flashes. You may also experience natural menopause a year or two earlier than if you had not undergone surgery.

6. Missing chromosomes

Women who are born with missing chromosomes or chromosome abnormalities may experience menopause at a young age. Women with Turner's syndrome, for example, are born lacking all or part of a sex chromosome, thus their ovaries do not mature accurately at birth and their menstrual cycles, including the time around menopause, may be aberrant.

7. Genetics

Reports suggesting strong correlations exist between the menopausal age of mothers and daughters, as well as twins, endorsed the belief that there is a significant link between early menopause and genetics. About 30-50 percent of women who experience early menopause do so for genetic reasons. Therefore, a family history of early menopause or Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) significantly increases an individual's risk of having a similar experience.

In the study, women with a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5 kilograms per square meter, at any age, were 30 percent more likely to experience early menopause compared with women whose BMI was between 18.5 and 22.4 kilograms per square meter. The researchers also found that women whose BMI was between 25 and 29.9 kilograms per square meter were up to 30 percent less likely to experience early menopause.

9. Medical conditions

According to an article published by Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, infections such as tuberculosis, mumps, malaria, chickenpox, shingles, dysentery due to shigella may rarely lead to early onset of menopause.

In addition, certain medical conditions such as enzyme deficiencies, Down’s Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Addison’s Disease, and hypothyroidism may be responsible for the same.

10. Chronic fatigue syndrome

Women suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) experience excessive exhaustion, weakness, muscle and joint pain, memory loss, headache, restless sleep, and other symptoms. According to research published in the journal of The North American Menopause Society, women with CFS are more likely to have early or premature menopause.

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