Premature Ovarian Insufficency / Early Menopause

The average age of menopause is 51. However, some women go through the menopause before the age of 40. This is called Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, or early menopause. It affects around one in every 100 women.

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Hormonal health is key for women to feel well. Talk to a specialist doctor about your symptoms and options for treatment.

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Seek help from a gynaecologist that provides a calm, unhurried environment.

DIAGNOSIS

Prompt diagnosis will help undercover what might be causing your symptoms.

TREATMENT

Knowing your treatment options allows you to make informed decisions about your women’s health.

DON’T DELAY

Prompt treatment of gynaecology conditions often results in a greater chance of success.

Symptoms

Menopause occurs when the balance of the body’s sex hormones changes. Although this normally happens over the age of 45, it can occur before then.

Doctors are unsure why, in many cases. In others, early menopause can be triggered by:

  • surgery to remove the ovaries
  • certain treatments for breast cancer
  • chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • certain long-term conditions such as Down’s Syndrome or Addison’s Disease.
  • some infections such as tuberculosis, mumps, malaria and chickenpox
    autoimmune diseases

Diagnosis

If you start to experience symptoms of the menopause below the age of 45, talk to your doctor or gynaecologist. A blood test will be able to measure your hormone levels and confirm whether or not you are experiencing an early menopause. It will test for raised levels of FSH and low levels of Oestrogen.

Treatment

There are treatments for both the physical and psychological effects of early menopause.

Hormonal Treatments

Early menopause carries an increased risk of Osteoporosis (weak bones) due to the decline in Oestrogen levels. It an also carry an increased risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Because of this, women with the condition are normally advised to take HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) until the normal age of menopause (around 51-52).

Non-hormonal treatments

For some women, early menopause means they are unable to have children naturally. IVF is an option for some, using eggs donated by another woman. There are counselling services and support networks to help women to deal with the psychological impacts of Premature Ovarian Failure, including The Daisy Network which is a patient-led support group based in the UK. Your GP or gynaecologist will be able to advise you.

FAQs

Doctors can’t say exactly why this happens to some women. In some cases, early menopause can be triggered by certain health conditions or treatments, for example, if you have undergone chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or if you have surgery to remove your ovaries. If your mother or sister had an early menopause there is a higher possibility that you may also do so. Or if you have certain health conditions such as the autoimmune disease Lupus, hypothyroidism or Graves’ disease you may be more likely to have an early menopause.

Unfortunately not. Once menopause has begun there is usually nothing that can be done to reverse it. However, if you want to have children and have not already done so you may be able to conceive using eggs donated by another woman. Your gynaecologist will be able to advise you.

Your doctor or gynaecologist will discuss your symptoms with you and will carry out a blood test. This tests for raised levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates your ovaries to produce Oestrogen. When the production of Oestrogen falls, your levels of FSH rise. If FSH rises above a particular level, it indicates that you are menopausal.