Early menopause 

An expert explains the different types and physical symptoms of menopause, why some women experience it early and the methods to cope with it at any age. Also, find out how Kathy dealt with having her menopause at the age of 36.

Self-help advice for managing menopausal symptoms

Transcript of Early menopause

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 etcetera.

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.

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