The menopause naturally occurs

The menopause naturally occurs
usually around the age of 52 in the UK,

and it occurs because our ovaries
run out of eggs and stop working.

An early menopause is defined
as the periods stopping,

or menopause for whatever reason,
before the age of 45,

and premature menopause
is menopause before the age of 40.

To be honest I didn't really know
what I was going through at the time.

I was about 36-ish when everything
started to kick off, so to speak,

and I just thought
I was going through a bad time.

Premature menopause
occurs in about one per cent of women

and an even earlier menopause
before the age of 30

occurs in 0.1 per cent of women.

What I noticed was that
the periods were really, really heavy

and they were just ongoing all the time.

The symptoms can be physical symptoms

such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood
swings, sleep disturbance, joint aches.

They are the very common
early symptoms.

Horrendous night sweats
every single night of the week.

They often get thinning,
changes in the vaginal wall,

which can cause irritation,
discomfort during sex, vaginal dryness,

and that can have all sorts of effects,
for example on relationships.

But often these symptoms are hidden.

Other symptoms are running to the toilet
more often, having to go at night.

I just used to flip
and I didn't know why

and my decision-making was
also irrational, along with my temper.

The psychological symptoms
we're talking about

are mood changes, irritability, anxiety,

depressed mood, sleep disturbance

But the worst symptoms often affect the
women who have a sudden menopause,

often related to surgery.

If they get a sudden drop in hormone
levels, that brings on physical symptoms

in a much more severe way.

It was a shock. I felt old. I knew
I couldn't have children for definite.

It was just the age
where everybody was thinking,

"It's all right in your 40s
to have children."

I did want children. I love children.

I have two nephews
who I absolutely adore.

But I knew that I was never
going to have a child of my own.

For most women that have
a premature or early menopause

there is no identifiable cause,
there's no specific underlying cause,

but there does seem to be
often a family history.

When we see someone with a premature
menopause we'll always do blood tests

to look for any underlying cause
and any correctable cause.

When I found out that it was actually
the menopause causing my tempers

I was really, really pleased that,
if you like, I could give a title to it.

I had to ask for HRT
really because of the sweats

and it certainly did help
with my temper.

The current recommendation
for treatment of early menopause

is that all women should be offered
hormone replacement therapy.

We now know that women
with an untreated premature menopause

have an increased risk of the bone
thinning, osteoporosis, in the long term

and also cardiovascular disease,
heart disease,

and also effects on the brain
with an increased risk of dementia.

So it's really, really important
that young women

who have a menopause
for whatever reason

are offered hormone replacement therapy.

The HRT did help, it does help,

and I think that the risks
have now been more defined,

so find out about the risks.

For women looking for help,
particularly those with early menopause,

it's important to get
as much information as possible

and not just listen to scare stories,

to get accurate, up-to-date information,
there's a lot of online information,

and also to look for support groups.

You need to get over it
and get through it

and get on with your life
as soon as possible,

but you must give yourself
chance and opportunity as well

to realise what it is
you're going through.

Don't start beating yourself up,
because I did,

and in the end the only person
that gets upset is yourself.