As women reach their 40s, they begin to worry about the raging symptoms they are about to face before menopause. While it may take several years before your last menstrual period is over, some women may transition into menopause earlier than expected. So, when you experience the signs of menopause before reaching 40, you may be undergoing premature menopause.
Why do some women experience this early onset of menopausal symptoms, and what can you do to prevent them from happening? Learn more about premature menopause and ways to stop this menopausal problem.
What is Premature Menopause?
The majority of women experience premenopausal symptoms in their late 40s or early 50s. These physical and internal changes may recur for years before the end of your last menstrual period. But for some reason, menopause can visit you earlier than expected, also known as premature menopause. Only 5% of women go through the sudden menopausal transition, but everyone can be at risk of suffering from this problem.
Premature menopause does not happen in a blink of the eye. Find out more by identifying the factors that can trigger the early inception of menopause.
Causes of Early Menopause: What Prompts Premature Menopause?
Genes will always have a more significant influence on your body's biological activities. Hence, if your mother, grandmother, or a close relative has a history of premature menopause, you will also most likely experience the same fate as one of your female family members. You can consult your doctor regarding the root of your family's premature menopausal problem.
2. Damaged ovaries
Your ovaries determine the start of your menopausal journey since their estrogen production affects your menstrual cycles. But when your ovaries get damaged for some reason, your estrogen levels may drastically fall and cause a hormonal imbalance.
The ovaries are especially at risk when a woman undergoes chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Radiation can directly affect the female gonads and damage the reproductive tissues, severely affecting a woman's ability to procreate and become pregnant. Prolonged exposure to these hazardous treatments will most likely cause your ovaries to bag down in advance, also known as a premature ovarian failure.
3. Removal of ovaries
Many gynecological conditions would need surgical removal of ovaries (or oophorectomy) to prevent further complications. Ovarian cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cysts or tumors, and ovarian torsion are some of the common reasons why a woman needs to give up her gonads.
While you may be saved from the impediments of these reproductive disorders, you may also be prone to premature menopause. Having your ovaries removed at an early age can severely affect estrogen and progesterone levels. As a result, hormonal imbalance occurs, and you get to experience untimely menopausal symptoms.
4. Autoimmune diseases and genetic disorders
When your immune system malfunctions, it can mistakenly identify and attack your healthy cells as foreign bodies. Various organs may be affected, including those that secrete hormones such as your ovaries. As a result, your ovaries may not be able to produce the same amount of estrogens anymore, pushing your body to go through early menopause.
On the other hand, genetic disorders can also lead to premature menopause. For instance, a woman with Turner Syndrome has incomplete X chromosomes, and this chromosomal defect can cause ovary failure and trigger early menopause.
Whether you are a first-hand, second-hand, or third-hand smoker, women exposed to smoking are also at risk of suffering early menopause. Many studies can testify and explain how smoking affects your gynecological function. As you all know, cigarette smoking poses a threat to the human body because of its deadly carcinogens. The substances found in a single cigarette stick are toxic enough to disrupt cellular metabolic processes. Carcinogens contribute to the mutation of healthy cells and the proliferation of cancer cells. Therefore, the more exposed you are to carcinogens, the higher the chance for you to develop cancer.
Some studies have explained that cigarette smoking chemicals can trigger the early activation of the gene and the genetic receptor responsible for the onset of menopause. Smoking can also reduce the number of estrogen in your body, thereby affecting various physiological functions that rely on these female sex hormones. A 2018 study showed a high risk of going through premature menopause before 40 for heavy female smokers and a smaller risk for women who smoked heavily in the past. The same study also explained the link between nicotine and its adverse effects on ovarian germ cells.
The Dangers of Going Through Early Menopause
Premature menopause isn't good news for women since it can lead to long-term health ramifications. Check out the risks of going through early menopause.
1. Stress and anxiety
Females in their 30s and early 40s are still so focused on building and stabilizing their careers while taking care of their families that experiencing the symptoms of menopause earlier can put you under extreme stress. Hot flashes and sleeping problems are just some of the most common signs that can trigger anxiety.
2. Mood disorders
Some women may not be new to mood swings anymore since mood shifting occurs weeks or days before a menstrual cycle. However, going through menopause, especially at an early age, can put your body in extreme shock. Your estrogen and progesterone levels drastically drop, prompting numerous physical and internal changes in your body. This change includes the worsening of your mood swings. Thus, you may experience more frequent and worse mood changes if you're transitioning earlier to menopause.
As long as your ovaries are healthy and are still experiencing menstrual cycles, you can become pregnant and give birth. However, women who experience menopausal symptoms at an early age are at risk of infertility. Once your ovaries stop releasing eggs, the game is over, and you can no longer become pregnant.
4. Heart diseases
There is a link between developing cardiovascular diseases and premature menopause. Factors that lead to early menopause can also encourage the onset of fatal heart disorders. These factors include smoking (which was mentioned earlier) and obesity. A study administered by the University of Queensland showed that most women aged between 40 and 44 had a higher chance of suffering from heart conditions. According to research, estrogens have something to do with the pliability of the artery walls' inner layer. Thus, a decline in estrogen levels during menopause can push your blood vessels to shrink and form blood clots.
5. Premature hair loss
Even your hair isn't susceptible to the adverse effects of premature menopause. Estrogens influence the hair growth cycle. Therefore, a decline in its levels can hasten the growth process, forcing your anagen hair follicles to shift into the telogen phase. As a result, you start losing hair strands even if they weren't supposed to shed yet.
6. Earlier death
The symptoms that go with premature menopause won't lead to mortality, but the underlying causes of early menopause might cause an earlier death. Smoking, which has been a primary trigger of the premature menopausal transition, can also be the root of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders, respiratory illnesses, and various cancer types.
How to Prevent Early Onset of Menopause
Knowing the adverse consequences of premature menopause is both an eye-opener and a warning to all women out there. However, some factors that induce early menopause, such as genetic conditions, are inevitable. As for the rest of the factors, you can still do something to avoid your untimely menopausal transition. Read the following tips on how to prevent the early onset of menopause.
1. Don't smoke and expose yourself to smoke.
Smoking is a leading cause of early menopause. If you don't want to experience the risks of premature menopause, you need to stop smoking as early as possible. Smoking can damage not only your respiratory system, but it can significantly impair your ovaries. Second-hand and third-hand smokers are also prone to early menopause. Thus, avoid smoking areas and smokers as much as possible.
2. Have regular check-ups with your gynecologist.
Early detection calls for early intervention, but in the case of ovarian failure and other related reproductive disorders, their symptoms don't manifest immediately, making it difficult to thwart the early onset of menopause. That is why it is essential to have regular check-ups with a gynecologist to keep your reproductive system and hormones checked.
3. Live a healthy lifestyle.
Nothing beats a healthy diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a happy disposition. No matter how busy you are at work or home, it would be best to prioritize your health above anything else. Like the famous saying "Prevention is better than cure," living a healthy lifestyle can save you tons of money from the consequences of premature menopause.
Menopause Does Not Need to Rush.
Menopause is an inevitable event in every woman's life. However, you can still delay its onset. By taking good care of your health and well-being, you can still enjoy your 30s and early 40s without worrying and suffering from any menopausal problem.
Prevent the Onset of Hair Loss Problems.
Your hair is also in peril of losing its healthy condition because of premature menopause. To avoid this early menopausal ramification, use the best shampoo and conditioner for hair growth. Don't forget to take enough hair vitamins to boost healthy hair growth and keep your locks in excellent condition.