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Premature Menopause

Premature Menopause

Apart from the natural menopause transition (perimenopause to postmenopause) which most women will experience, some may face one of the following challenges:
  • Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)
  • Surgical Menopause
  • Medical Menopause

 

Premature Ovarian Failure

The average age for women to reach natural menopause, the cessation of periods, is about 50. Some women, however, go through menopause in their 40s and some, as early as their 20s and 30s. For most women, the diagnosis of Premature Menopause (also known as Premature Ovarian Failure) is a shattering experience. Many younger women who are diagnosed with POF have not had the chance to make a decision about having children and find that opportunity denied to them.

 

Surgical Menopause

Menopause happens most dramatically as the result of surgical intervention, namely a hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy where both ovaries are removed. Sometimes this is called TAH/BSO, or total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Salpingo refers to the fallopian tubes which connect the ovaries to the uterus. In the case of a hysterectomy, where only the uterus is removed and the ovaries maintained, there will be some confusion about when menopause occurs because of the absence of a period.

When the uterus is removed (hysterectomy) and the ovaries remain, menstrual periods stop but other menopausal symptoms (if any) usually occur at the same age that they would naturally. However, some women who have a hysterectomy may experience menopausal symptoms at a younger age.

There are many decisions to make when faced with surgical menopause. You can never have enough information about the process. You can't just take your doctor's word! Become proactive…this is your body. Listed below are a few points of information that should help your transition into this process:
  • The younger the woman going through surgical menopause, the more problems she will likely encounter. It is crucial that every young woman scheduled for a hysterectomy have a complete hormonal blood work-up. That way there is a baseline to go by when determining hormonal needs. You can look back at those tests and see what the levels were when you felt normal and try to achieve those levels again with the right hormones.
  • Plan on your care after the hysterectomy. As a young woman it is important to find a "specialist " in hormonal therapy; someone who is up to date and keeps up to date with the newest medicine and side effects from surgical menopause. This doctor has to be someone you can trust, who provides good information and is open minded and will see you as a partner in your healthcare.
  • Research, research, and more research! The long-term effects of surgical menopause at a younger age has not really been determined. We are just now finding out how it relates to heart disease, osteoporosis and general health.

 

Symptoms

Not every woman will experience these symptoms, but it is a proven fact that if you are in surgical menopause, then you will experience most of these symptoms in a more severe fashion than women going through menopause naturally.
  • Hot Flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Hair Loss
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Bladder infections
  • Incontinence
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Anger/Rage
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression