Menopause is the stage where a natural decline occurs in the production of female reproductive hormones, called estrogens. At menopause, the ovaries of a female stop working and the normal menstrual cycle stops, due to which the female can’t get pregnant anymore. This is a natural, irreversible phenomenon which usually occurs at the age of 40s or 50s. But what happens if the ovaries stop working before the age of 40? It results in infertility. This condition is called Early Menopause or Premature Ovarian Failure.
Early menopause can occur due to many reasons:
Irregular or missed periods are the first and the early menopause symptoms. Sometimes, heavier or lighter periods than usual may also be experienced. Some of the symptoms of early menopause include:
Early menopause can cause challenges in fertility and desired pregnancy. Some other risks that are associated with early menopause are osteoporosis, depression, cardiovascular diseases, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, dementia, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, cataract, and periodontal diseases.
Decreased estrogen levels in turn decreases bone density leading to osteoporosis. This can be prevented by taking calcium rich diet and vitamin D supplements. Cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by lifestyle changes, healthy diet, and regular exercises.
Diagnosis can include physical examination and some of the following tests
There is no treatment that can reverse or prevent early menopause. Some treatments options are recommended to relieve the symptoms of early menopause. The early menopause treatment options include:
Hormone Therapy (HT): Hot flashes and vaginal dryness can be controlled effectively by hormone therapy. Estrogen is induced in to the body in different forms such as pills, patches, transdermal sprays, gels or creams. Localized treatment is also available for intravaginal use. HT is recommend for short term use as it is associated with certain risks like heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.
Antidepressant Medications: The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are proven effective in controlling hot flashes in 60% of women with early menopause.
Vaginal dryness can be treated by non-hormonal vaginal gels, creams, and lubricants.
Infertility can be overcome by assisted reproductive techniques.