While the average age for “natural” menopause in the US is 51, women can often experience
onset earlier or later. Women experience early menopause for a variety of reasons such as
genetics, illness, hormonal imbalance, or medical procedures. Symptoms of early menopause are often overlooked due to early onset and women may feel as though they are alone in their
Perimenopause is the stage prior to menopause where women start to experience a decline in
their estrogen and possible dysregulation of their menstrual cycles. This stage can last for
approximately 8 to 10 years prior to actual menopause. So what’s the difference? Menopause is
when the ovaries are no longer releasing eggs and the woman is no longer experiencing
menstruation. Everything else leading up to this is perimenopause and can often come with a
host of uncomfortable symptoms. With so many variables it might be difficult to know if you are
experiencing early menopause. Premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency occurs
before age 40.
Look Out For The Symptoms
With so many variables it might be difficult to know if you are experiencing early menopause or perimenopause. Some indicators of perimenopause are hot flashes, mood swings, and irregular menstruation (including heavier, lighter, continuous or missed cycles altogether). For some women, conceiving during this time period can become more difficult and prove to be both physically and emotionally challenging. Often during the last 1-2 years of perimenopause, the symptoms rapidly increase as the drop in estrogen produced by the ovaries becomes more pronounced.
Like other hormones such as cortisol, how much estrogen your body needs or produces can change with stress responses. Other symptoms you may experience could be vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, sleeplessness, and a decreased sex drive. Dry eyes, skin, and mouth frequently accompany other menopausal symptoms as well. No one should suffer a loss in quality of life unnecessarily.
Treatment Options For Premature Menopause
There are options for women experiencing premature menopause. Regulating your hormones is the first key step in achieving relief and improving your quality of life. Great strides have been made in the quality and array of options for hormone replacement therapy. Common forms we prescribe are patches on the skin in discreet locations, topical gel, or oral tablets. Depending on your age and estrogen needs, we can fine-tune hormone therapy by using a combination of these methods.
Commonly, simple regulation of your hormone levels will allow relief from many, if not all, of your symptoms. However, if you are still facing symptoms such as vaginal dryness we prescribe gels, lubricants or the MonaLisa Touch®.
At our office, we take a holistic approach to your health. We want to make sure that every symptom of premature menopause treated. We will look for critical issues and assess the whole body before coming to any conclusions about your treatment. If you would like to schedule an appointment with our office, please give us a call at (530) 345-0064 extension 281.