Premature menopause is any menopause that happens before the age of 40. Most women don’t hit menopause until their late 40’s early 50’s but it may happen naturally anytime between 40-60 years old. The average age of menopause in the US is 52 years old. In rare cases, menopause can occur before it actually should; this can be caused by a variety of factors such as medical conditions, medical treatment, or genetics.
In the case of premature menopause brought on by a surgical procedure such as a hysterectomy, the signs of menopause can be much more intense and sudden than if menopause was entered into naturally. This is especially true of hot flashes; women who undergo hysterectomies usually have more hot flashes and more intense hot flashes.
Examples of treatments that may cause early menopause are radiation treatment for cancer or other medical conditions. These treatments can permanently damage the ovaries, so some women save their eggs before having the treatment so that they can have children in the future.
Premature ovarian failure is another type of premature menopause that may be related to genetics. Although the exact cause of premature ovarian failure is unknown, it seems to be related to autoimmune disorders. In some cases, premature ovarian failure may not be permanent. Some women with this condition have been able to get pregnant, usually with the help of hormone therapy treatment. This condition may be temporary and may reverse or it can be permanent.
There are simple tests available that can help your doctor determine your hormone levels and whether you are in premature menopause or if your infertility may be caused by other factors. If you are trying to conceive, a diagnosis of early menopause can be devastating, don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you are having a hard time coping, there are many self help groups available both online and in person.