Early Menopause…Who? Me?

Early Menopause – An Inner Dialogue in One Act

photo TonyaInner Voice: Hey, it’s that time of the month only, it isn’t that time of the month.

Immediate panic: Am I pregnant?

Next breath: No, I haven’t had sex for a while. Whew.

Next panic: OMG! Then something’s wrong with me.

BIG PANIC: Could I have cancer? Or be in menopause? But that means I’m getting old, can’t have any kids, am going to wrinkle, and worst of all, turn into my mother.

Gentle panic: But then, it might not be cancer, hmmm. Could this really be menopause?  But I’m still young, no?

Early Menopause — No Period for 12 months before age 40-45

Relax. Could be that you’re just on a short hiatus due to stress or taking a new medication, or it could actually be early menopause.  Early menopause occurs when you do not get a period for 12 months before the age of 40-45 although it can start earlier.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

It can happen for a variety of reasons both physical and medical, or for no discernible reason at all.  It may just be in your DNA. If your mother had early menopause, you might too. So in a way, you may be turning into your mother.  Hope you liked her!

Early Menopause Signs

Early Menopause Causes

  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Auto-immune disease such as hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, or lupus
  • Cancer treatments — radiation or chemotherapy
  • Surgery of any kind but especially hysterectomy or removal of ovaries
  • Stress
  • Extreme dieting or exercise
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications
  • Never having given birth to a baby

Smoking Causes Early Menopause

photo credit: Kr. B. via photopin cc

Photo credit: Kr. B. via photopin cc

Did you enjoy smoking cigarettes now and then? A study, entitled Premenopausal Factors Influencing Premature Ovarian Failure and Early Menopause by S.H. Chang, concluded that cigarette smoking could raise the chances of ovarian failure by as much as 3.25%. That means more than 3 out of 100 women who smoke will have early menopause.

Oral Contraceptives Reduced Early Menopause By 1%

The same study,  Premenopausal Factors Influencing Premature Ovarian Failure and Early Menopause, found that oral contraceptive use was associated with a reduced risk of early menopause by about 1%. (Hey! So if you smoke and have a 3.25% risk of early menopause, but then you use oral contraceptives which give you a 1% credit, the math comes out to a 2.25% risk of early menopause if you smoke and take birth control pills!)

Good Books About Early Menopause

Fear not, although you may be on the earlier side of the scale, early menopause happens to 8 to 10% of women. And contrary to popular belief, it is NOT the end of the world.  In fact, it opens up a whole new wonderful world.  You just can’t see through those doors yet. We can help you take a peek if you poke around our site.  There are some fantastic books out there to help as well including The Silent Passage by Gail Sheehy, a best seller which has become the bible for women in menopause.

And, like they said in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t Panic!”

More Resources