Every person with a uterus goes through menopause, which is defined as the point in time when you have not had a period for twelve months. Women can enter menopause at a range of ages and for a variety of reasons. We will discuss the menopause type definitions and why women experience the start of menopause differently.
- The average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51 – it most often occurs 45-55
- Perimenopause can happen as early as the late 30’s and ramp up significantly in the 40’s
- 1 in 10 women experience menopause before 45 years old
- 1 in 100 experience it before 40 years old
- Earlier than normal menopause can happen due to:
- Premature Menopause: <40 years old
- Early Menopause: 40-45 years old
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
- Surgical Menopause
Read my Menopause Symptom blog here for more information on the 40 symptoms of menopause.
Different ways to enter menopause:
Natural menopause usually begins between ages 45 and 55, with an average of 51 in the U.S. However, some women experience these symptoms at a much younger age. Natural menopause can take so many forms across women, or even within a singular woman’s experience. Every woman’s experience is different – some:
- Have no symptoms
- Are overwhelmed by symptoms
- Are much more disturbed by physical manifestations like hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness and irritation
- Are blindsided by the brain fog, mood swings, anxiety, and memory issues
Until you have officially reached menopause and have not had cycles for 12 consecutive months, you can still get pregnant and should use contraception to avoid a potentially unwanted pregnancy.
Premature menopause happens before the age of 40 and occurs naturally when a woman’s ovaries stop maturing eggs due to lower levels of estrogen. Often no underlying cause can be identified, but it can be due to chromosomal abnormalities, some cancer treatments, autoimmune diseases, or infectious diseases. Women with premature menopause stop having periods and can’t become pregnant.
POI in women can result in irregular or occasional periods for years; women with POI can ovulate and might even get pregnant. Women under age 40 with menstrual irregularity for 3 or more consecutive months should be evaluated to rule out POI. Restoring estrogen levels in women with POI can prevent complications that occur as a result of low estrogen, such as osteoporosis.
Early Menopause happens between 40 and 45 to about 5% of women. This early onset can be caused by genetic factors, autoimmune and thyroid diseases, viral illnesses, chronic fatigue syndrome, smoking, and certain medications or treatments. Women in early menopause do not ovulate or menstruate and can no longer get pregnant.
Surgical menopause is the removal of one or both ovaries from a woman who has not yet reached natural menopause. This can occur after an oophorectomy, a surgery that removes the ovaries, which triggers immediate menopause. This procedure is sometimes performed in addition to a hysterectomy to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. A hysterectomy is surgical removal of the uterus, causing periods to stop; there are different types of hysterectomies that can also involve the removal of other female reproductive organs. But having a hysterectomy doesn’t lead to menopause unless the ovaries are removed too. Women might undergo such surgeries because of cancers of the reproductive system or genetic risk associated with these diseases, fibroids, heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, or other factors.
Medical menopause can occur when cancer therapies, e.g. radiation or chemotherapy, are directed at the ovaries and cause a person’s ovaries to stop functioning before menopause would normally occur. It happens much faster than natural menopause, and it often causes more severe symptoms. The effects can be temporary or permanent, depending on the treatment and the extent of damage to the ovaries. So, for women in the childbearing years, birth control may still be desired until permanent menopause is proven.
If you have any questions or want to work with Menowar on a customized menopause plan for you, schedule a free consultation HERE!
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.