Hot flashes and sleep disorders are typical signs of menopause. Usually, women are about 50 when they enter menopause.
But they can become a topic much faster than expected: about one percent of women in Germany are affected by premature menopause.
This can happen to them ten to 15 years earlier than usual.
Menopause and its symptoms
Menopause usually starts at about the age of 50 to 51 – this is considered to be the mean age of menopause. They are accompanied by symptoms such as fever, sleep disorders, mental instability, joint pain, decreased libido, dryness of the vagina and other ailments.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries slowly become inactive. Then the body shuts down the production of the hormone estrogen and the intervals between menstrual bleeding become larger, until they finally stop completely.
The last "natural" menstruation in a woman's life is called menopause.
Signs of premature menopause
"Premature menopause" is when ovarian function decreases before the age of 40 and the woman no longer has menstruation. If women under 40 cannot get pregnant and have menopausal symptoms, premature menopause is suspected.
This affects about one percent of women, 0.3 percent even before the age of 35.
In addition to the typical symptoms of menopause, premature hormone deficiency can have a negative effect:
According to scientific research, women who enter menopause early without the use of concomitant hormone replacement therapy may be at increased risk for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and dementia.
Causes of premature menopause
The causes of premature menopause cannot be determined. Many factors are involved. However, heredity, i.e. the genetic factor, plays a particularly important role.
Menopause is assumed to be genetically determined by 40 to 85 percent. Often many generations of women are affected in the family in early or late menopause.
Since egg supply is already being applied to the female embryo, it also plays a role, to which the influence of her own mother was exposed during pregnancy. Did she get strong medication? Did she smoke?
Also, women who have undergone surgery in the womb or ovaries or fallopian tubes arrive on average earlier in menopause.
A blood test with a gynecologist provides information
Anyone who suffers from the above symptoms and is afraid to come early in menopause should see a gynecologist.
In the first days of the cycle, a blood test can provide information. The values of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen are measured to check whether menopause has already occurred or not.
Muka, T. et al. (2016): Association of age at time of menopause and time since onset of menopause with cardiovascular outcomes, mean vascular features, and overall mortality. Accessed 22/11/2019: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2551981
Ryan, J. et al. (2014): Impact of premature menopause on cognitive function in later life. Accessed 22/11/2019 https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1471-0528.12828