Disease: Premature Menopause

    Premature menopause facts

    • When menopause occurs before the age of 40, it is referred to as premature menopause.
    • One medical cause of premature menopause is premature ovarian failure.
    • Other causes of premature menopause include damage to the ovaries by chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments, or surgical removal of the ovaries.
    • The symptoms of premature menopause include mood swings, vaginal dryness, cognitive changes, hot flashes, decrease in sex drive, and sleep disturbances. Symptoms are the same as those of menopause that occurs later in life.
    • Diagnostic tests can show an elevated level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and low level of estradiol.
    • There is no treatment that can reverse or prevent premature menopause.
    • Hormone therapy and other treatments are available to help relieve the symptoms of premature menopause.
    • Complications of premature menopause include infertility and an increased risk for osteoporosis.

    What is premature menopause?

    Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods cease. It is defined medically as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. The average age for a natural menopause is 51. Sometimes, menopause occurs earlier, due to diseases, genetic factors, or surgery. There is also a wide variation among women regarding the timing of normal menopause. However, when menopause occurs before the age of 40, it is referred to as premature menopause.

    What causes premature menopause?

    One medical causes of premature menopause is known as premature ovarian failure. Technically, premature ovarian failure is not the same as premature menopause. In premature ovarian failure, the ovaries stop functioning normally before the age of 40. Women with premature ovarian failure may still occasionally have menstrual periods but typically experience infertility. Premature ovarian failure is sometimes called primary ovarian insufficiency; the result of premature ovarian failure usually causes the symptoms of premature menopause.

    Premature menopause can also be caused by treatments for cancers or other conditions that involve chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to the pelvis. These treatments can damage the ovaries and result in ovarian failure.

    Surgery to remove the ovaries, either for benign or malignant conditions, results in premature menopause if both ovaries are removed. Surgery to remove the uterus results in menopause only in the sense that menstrual bleeding does not occur, but the ovaries, if not removed along with the uterus, continue to produce hormones.

    Other infrequent causes that may lead to premature menopause include drugs, chronic diseases, pituitary and hypothalamic tumors, psychiatric disorders, and other relatively rare or undefined conditions.

    Who is at risk for premature menopause?

    Premature ovarian failure affects about 1 out of every 1000 women from ages 15 to 29 and about 1 out of every 100 women aged 30 to 39. It can be related to genetic (inherited) factors, to illnesses like autoimmune diseases or thyroid disease, viral infection, hormonal disorders, or an eating disorder. In particular, premature ovarian failure risk increases in women who have relatives with the condition.

    Women at risk for surgical or treatment-induced menopause are those who are undergoing treatment for cancer or other conditions that require surgical removal of the female organs.

    What are the symptoms of premature menopause?

    The symptoms of premature menopause are those of typical menopause. They can include:

    • Mood swings
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Cognitive changes
    • Hot flashes
    • Decrease in sex drive
    • Sleep disturbances

    Irregular periods usually precede the menopause and can begin years before periods actually cease.

    What tests are used to diagnose premature menopause?

    No special tests are needed to determine the absence of menstrual periods, but sometimes women having symptoms of menopause and irregular periods may be tested to determine their ovarian function. For example, tests may be done to rule out pregnancy or other causes of missed menstruation, like certain thyroid diseases. The level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is often measured in the blood to determine whether a woman is nearing menopause and how well her ovaries are working. FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen, so levels of this hormone rise when estrogen levels drop. FSH levels that are higher than 40 mIU/ml are considered characteristic of menopause. Levels of ovarian hormones such as estradiol may be also measured, as low levels (levels less than 32 pg/ml) are suggestive of menopause.

    Is there any treatment for premature menopause?

    There is no treatment that can reverse or prevent premature menopause. However, women who have reached menopause do have treatment options that can help control unpleasant symptoms.

    Types of treatments for symptom relief include:

    • Hormone therapy: hormone therapy (HT, or estrogen therapy, ET) is available in different forms including pills, patches, transdermal sprays, or gels or creams. Localized hormone treatments are also available for intravaginal use. HT/ET is the most effective way to control symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Because HT/ET has been associated with certain health risks (heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer), experts recommend using the lowest effective dose of hormone therapy for the shortest time possible.
    • Oral contraceptive pills are a form of HT that is sometimes used to help relieve menopausal symptoms.
    • Antidepressant medications: The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and related medications have been shown to be effective in controlling the symptoms of hot flashes in up to 60% of women.
    • Non-hormonal vaginal gels, creams, and lubricants can help prevent the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
    • Assisted reproductive technologies like pregnancy using donor eggs may be considered for women with premature menopause who desire to become pregnant.

    What causes premature menopause?

    One medical causes of premature menopause is known as premature ovarian failure. Technically, premature ovarian failure is not the same as premature menopause. In premature ovarian failure, the ovaries stop functioning normally before the age of 40. Women with premature ovarian failure may still occasionally have menstrual periods but typically experience infertility. Premature ovarian failure is sometimes called primary ovarian insufficiency; the result of premature ovarian failure usually causes the symptoms of premature menopause.

    Premature menopause can also be caused by treatments for cancers or other conditions that involve chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to the pelvis. These treatments can damage the ovaries and result in ovarian failure.

    Surgery to remove the ovaries, either for benign or malignant conditions, results in premature menopause if both ovaries are removed. Surgery to remove the uterus results in menopause only in the sense that menstrual bleeding does not occur, but the ovaries, if not removed along with the uterus, continue to produce hormones.

    Other infrequent causes that may lead to premature menopause include drugs, chronic diseases, pituitary and hypothalamic tumors, psychiatric disorders, and other relatively rare or undefined conditions.

    Who is at risk for premature menopause?

    Premature ovarian failure affects about 1 out of every 1000 women from ages 15 to 29 and about 1 out of every 100 women aged 30 to 39. It can be related to genetic (inherited) factors, to illnesses like autoimmune diseases or thyroid disease, viral infection, hormonal disorders, or an eating disorder. In particular, premature ovarian failure risk increases in women who have relatives with the condition.

    Women at risk for surgical or treatment-induced menopause are those who are undergoing treatment for cancer or other conditions that require surgical removal of the female organs.

    What are the symptoms of premature menopause?

    The symptoms of premature menopause are those of typical menopause. They can include:

    • Mood swings
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Cognitive changes
    • Hot flashes
    • Decrease in sex drive
    • Sleep disturbances

    Irregular periods usually precede the menopause and can begin years before periods actually cease.

    What tests are used to diagnose premature menopause?

    No special tests are needed to determine the absence of menstrual periods, but sometimes women having symptoms of menopause and irregular periods may be tested to determine their ovarian function. For example, tests may be done to rule out pregnancy or other causes of missed menstruation, like certain thyroid diseases. The level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is often measured in the blood to determine whether a woman is nearing menopause and how well her ovaries are working. FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen, so levels of this hormone rise when estrogen levels drop. FSH levels that are higher than 40 mIU/ml are considered characteristic of menopause. Levels of ovarian hormones such as estradiol may be also measured, as low levels (levels less than 32 pg/ml) are suggestive of menopause.

    Is there any treatment for premature menopause?

    There is no treatment that can reverse or prevent premature menopause. However, women who have reached menopause do have treatment options that can help control unpleasant symptoms.

    Types of treatments for symptom relief include:

    • Hormone therapy: hormone therapy (HT, or estrogen therapy, ET) is available in different forms including pills, patches, transdermal sprays, or gels or creams. Localized hormone treatments are also available for intravaginal use. HT/ET is the most effective way to control symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Because HT/ET has been associated with certain health risks (heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer), experts recommend using the lowest effective dose of hormone therapy for the shortest time possible.
    • Oral contraceptive pills are a form of HT that is sometimes used to help relieve menopausal symptoms.
    • Antidepressant medications: The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and related medications have been shown to be effective in controlling the symptoms of hot flashes in up to 60% of women.
    • Non-hormonal vaginal gels, creams, and lubricants can help prevent the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
    • Assisted reproductive technologies like pregnancy using donor eggs may be considered for women with premature menopause who desire to become pregnant.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    Premature ovarian failure affects about 1 out of every 1000 women from ages 15 to 29 and about 1 out of every 100 women aged 30 to 39. It can be related to genetic (inherited) factors, to illnesses like autoimmune diseases or thyroid disease, viral infection, hormonal disorders, or an eating disorder. In particular, premature ovarian failure risk increases in women who have relatives with the condition.

    Women at risk for surgical or treatment-induced menopause are those who are undergoing treatment for cancer or other conditions that require surgical removal of the female organs.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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