Solutions For Dealing With Premature Menopause

Solutions For Dealing With Premature Menopause

Chapter 8

As women grow older, our bodies stop producing the same amount of estrogen and progesterone, the primary hormones that are responsible for controlling female reproduction. As the amount of these hormones in a woman’s body begin to decrease, menstrual cycles will become more irregular. When these hormones reach a low enough level and remain there for a long period of time, a woman will stop having a menstrual cycle completely.

Doctors consider menopause to officially begin when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without having a period. It's common for women to start menopause in between the ages of 45 - 55, with the average age for women to start menopause being 51 in the United States. However, some women go through menopause at an earlier age than what many doctors consider to be the usual starting age. 

What is premature menopause?

Women who’re under the age of 45 don’t have to miss a year’s worth of periods to be considered to be starting menopause early. Instead, if you’re under the age of 45 and have missed your period for three consecutive months, then you could be going through menopause early. 

Early Menopause Vs. Premature Menopause: What’s The Difference?

Whether you’re going through early menopause or premature menopause mainly depends on your age. If menopause starts and you’re between the ages of 40 and 45, then you’re experiencing early menopause. If you’re under the age of 40 as you begin to go through menopause, then your menopause is considered premature. Premature menopause affects approximately 1% of women in the United States.

Even if you’ve missed your period for three months in a row though, there could be other reasons at hand that don’t involve you going through premature menopause. 

Some of these reasons could include:

  • A sudden increase in stress levels
  • Pregnancy
  • An illness
  • A main change in your diet or exercise
  • Major weight loss
  • A response to a certain medication or contraceptive

If you haven’t had a period for several months, you will want to meet with your doctor soon to talk through possible causes. If you do happen to be going through premature menopause, you’ll want to be diagnosed as early as possible. An early treatment can help to prevent bone damage. 

What Causes Premature Menopause? 

Premature menopause can happen for two reasons: follicle depletion or follicle dysfunction.

When either of  these occur, a woman’s eggs don’t mature or get released and this causes a woman’s period to stop. Both of these processes are considered perfectly normal when they take place for women who’re 40 or older. If they happen to occur early though, your doctor will likely check for an underlying cause.

Premature menopause can occur naturally or it can be caused by external factors. When premature menopause is induced by external factors, there are a number of reasons that could cause this reaction. Both chemotherapy and certain medical surgeries can cause premature menopause. Women who’ve had their ovaries removed or have had a hysterectomy are most likely to experience premature menopause. 

What Are Natural Factors That Can Cause Premature Menopause?

These are several natural factors that can cause a woman to experience menopause prematurely, including: 

  • A family history of premature or early menopause
  • Having an autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis) 
  • A chromosomal abnormality (like Turner’s syndrome) 
  • Smoking for an extended period of one’s life

However, women don’t have to have one of these medical conditions to experience premature menopause. Even without one of these factors, though, a woman could begin menopause before the age of 40, although it’s more rare. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Premature Menopause? 

Many of the symptoms that are involved with premature menopause are the same as the symptoms that arise during menopause. Just like with menopause that happens for women later in life, women who are going to experience premature menopause will have irregular periods for a couple of years before menopause begins. This time period is referred to as perimenopause. Every woman has a different experience with the main menopause symptoms she experiences along with their intensity. You may be experiencing one main symptom for a while as you start menopause before it fades and you begin to experience another main symptom. Keeping a journal of the symptoms you experience, along with their severity, will help you explain how you’re feeling to your doctor when you have appointments. 

Below are many of the common symptoms that women experience with premature menopause. 

  • Infertility

Many women who’re going through the beginning stages of menopause struggle to become pregnant because their periods are so irregular. Once a woman stops having periods completely, she cannot become pregnant. 

  • Hot Flashes

75% of women going through menopause have “hot flashes,” which feel like intense heat throughout your body. These can happen suddenly and vary in their duration and frequency. Some hot flashes will be as short as a couple of seconds when another one could last up to ten minutes. You might go a couple of weeks without having one, and then suddenly have a couple in hot flashes in a week. 

Hot flashes can be caused by several different things including: caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, and cigarettes. Usually hot flashes aren’t the by product of changes in your external environment, but if the temperature does increase, it could cause a hot flash to occur. This is due to your body’s temperature guage (the hypothalamus) being more sensitive to your body’s temperature as your levels of estrogen drop. When this occurs, your body wants to cool you off, so a hot flash takes place so that you’ll feel cooler afterwards. It’s the same as how we begin to sweat to release heat in our system. 

  • Night Sweats

Night sweats take place while you’re sleeping and you begin to sweat profusely. Not every hot flash causes sweating, but night sweats always do (hence the name). 

  • Vaginal Dryness

Since your reproductive hormones lessen during menopause, many women struggle to have enough natural lubrication. This can make it difficult or painful to have sex. 

  • Osteoporosis

You can lose bone density during menopause because estrogen is a hormone that protects women’s bones. So as its levels decline, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis. 

  • Weight Gain

Research has shown that women gain approximately 5 pounds during the course of menopause. Since a drop in the levels of estrogen and progesterone occurs when you go through menopause, how your body sheds calories changes. This shift can make it more difficult for your body to regulate your weight or prevent weight gain. 

Although weight gain is a common symptom that women experience with menopause, it’s important to note that this change in weight gain won’t happen overnight. Some women prevent any weight gain through exercise, diet, and other healthy lifestyle choices. 

  • Insomnia

Insomnia is a common side effect of menopause. In fact, research has shown that 61% of women have insomnia at some point during menopause. Insomnia could occur for a number of reasons during menopause, including a shift in hormones or additional stress and worries.

  • Difficulty concentrating 

A study found that difficulty concentrating can take place in women who’ve recently entered menopause when compared to women who still haven’t begun menopause. This study showed that the difficlities with concentration had less to do with a woman’s age and more to do with whether or not her body had started to go through menopause. 

  • Anxiety

Anxiety is a symptom of menopause for many women, but it can be an especially debilitating symptom for women who’re going through premature menopause. Hormone shifts normally cause women to have more anxiety during menopause, but the added stress of going through menopause at an early stage in life can add even more stress to a woman’s mind. 

  • Depression

Similar to anxiety, depression can be a common side effect of menopause; however, women who have premature menopause can be more likely to develop depression. Many women who begin menopause before the age of 40 may still have been planning on having more children. Even if a woman begins the process of perimenopause in her 30s or 40s, she may be likely to struggle to conceive a child (although it's still possible)

  • Reduced Sex Drive Or A Lack Of Libido

Although not all women experience this change in their amount of sexual desire, it’s not uncommon for women in menopause to feel this way at some point. Having an honest and open conversation with your sexual partner will help them better understand your feelings and help them realize that your reduced libido isn’t connected to them. 

Strategies For Managing Infertility

What is one of the most debilitating symptoms of premature menopause for many women is infertility. If a woman is in the early stages of menopause and is still having periods, even if they’re irregular, it's possible for her to conceive a child, although it will be more difficult than it is for women who’re having a period every month. 

Women who’ve stopped having a period completely will have to look to other means to add a child to their family. 

  • In Vitro Fertilization

One solution is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a common solution for women who’ve realized early that they’re going through premature menopause. In this instance, healthy eggs are collected from your body and stored in a lab.  While your eggs are at the lab, they’ll be mixed with sperm cells from your partner or from a donor. This process is known as insemination. 

After 3-5 days, you’ll return to your doctor’s office where they’ll insert at least one fertilized embryo into your uterus. Pregnancy will occur if any of the embryos attach to the lining of your uterus. 

Since women who’re going through premature menopause have lower levels of estrogen, your doctor will most likely place you on hormone treatment to make up for the lack of reproductive hormones in your system. This will help the embryos have a better chance of attaching to your uterus and will also help to ensure a healthy pregnancy. 

IVF can be a lengthy and expensive process that, unfortunately, doesn’t have a 100% success rate. When considering IVF, you should talk with your doctor about the likelihood of conceiving a child along with any complications that may arise.

  • Using A Surrogate Mother

Sometimes women going through premature menopause will still struggle to conceive a child with IVF methods because of the lack of natural estrogen in their system along with other possible complications. In this situation, they may decide to work with a “surrogate mother” to have a child. 

There are two different kinds of surrogate mothers:

    • Traditional surrogate - a traditional surrogate is a woman who’s artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. Her egg is the one that will be fertilized by the father’s sperm, so she’ll be the biological mother. She’ll then carry and deliver the baby for you and the father to raise. 
      Donor sperm can also be used. 
    • Birth surrogate - also known as a “gestational surrogate.” In this situation, eggs have been retrieved from you using IVF methods and then they’ve been fertilized with the sperm from the father or the donor’s sperm. After the eggs are fertilized, they’re inserted into the surrogate with the hope that they’ll attach to her uterine lining. 

      Here, the surrogate will have no biological ties to the child because it wasn’t her egg that was fertilized

Before looking for a surrogate mother, look at the laws in your state. The legal process isn’t always straightforward because it can vary from state to state, especially if you use a traditional surrogate. In some states, traditional surrogates will have visitation rights to the child unless otherwise noted in a prior contract. 

Similar to IVF, you’ll also want to talk to your doctor about the likelihood and probable health of a child through using a surrogate. 

  • Going Through The Adoption Process

Many women who’re going through premature menopause opt to not use IVF because of the expenses associated with it along with its lack of promise for success. Others decide to not use IVF out of fear they won’t produce a healthy baby. 

Likewise, many women decide to not use a surrogate because of the legal complexities that can be associated with someone else carrying the child or because of the cost. 

When using a surrogate of IVF aren’t viable options, many women who want to have a child will turn to adoption. 

Adoption can also be a long, but extremely fulfilling process. In the US, on average, adoption takes four to twelve months. The first step is educating yourself on some of the processes involved with adoption and then contacting an adoption agency. From there, they’ll evaluate your home life along with requiring some parental training to deem your family ready to adopt a child. You’ll also have to talk with the adoption agency about your main wants for a child in terms of gender and age. 

Adoption can be complex based on whether the biological parents want to be involved in the child’s life or not. You’ll want to take that into consideration before entering into an “open” adoption. One of the best ways to understand the complexities of adopting a child is through talking to friends who’ve adopted or through joining a social network that involves parents who’ve gone through the adoption process. 

Treatment Options For Premature Menopause

Although menopause can’t be stopped or reversed, there are a number of both medical and natural treatment options available to you to help you manage your symptoms. 

  • Hormone-replacement therapy

This is a top choice for doctors as they treat women who’re going through premature menopause because this therapy will replace the estrogen, progesterone, and other reproductive hormones that your body can no longer produce by itself. 

When a doctor starts this treatment for women going through premature menopause, they’ll normally continue the treatment until a woman reaches their 50’s, the “usual” time period for a woman to be going through menopause. A woman’s symptoms will usually be less severe by the time she reaches her 50’s as well.

Many doctors also recommend hormone-replacement therapy to prevent bone loss and promote healthy heart health. 

Doctors won’t always recommend hormone-replacement therapy for every woman though. Your doctor will have to take your past health history into consideration because the therapy can increase the risk of stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer in some women. 

  • Calcium Supplements

Doctors will normally recommend that women going through premature menopause begin to add a calcium supplement to their daily routine to protect their bones as their estrogen levels drop. 

Always talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement to your diet on your own because it's possible that it could interact with other medications. 

  • Attending Therapy Or Talking With Friends

Talking about what you’re experiencing with premature menopause helps many women cope with the lifestyle changes and emotions they’re experiencing. Talking with close friends about your experiences is a fantastic way to get some of your emotions out into the open; however one issue some women going through premature menopause experience is that none of their friends of the same age can relate to them since they haven’t gone through menopause yet. If you have older female friends, reach out to them about what you’re currently going through. 

Another viable option is talking to a licensed therapist. Certain therapists have a specific background and training in helping women handle the struggles of menopause. Meeting with one of them could help you feel less isolated and they could provide you with techniques to better respond to some of the mood fluctuations that occur as a result of menopause. 

  • Exercising And Eating A Well-Rounded Diet

Exercising can be an empowering and positive stress reliever for many women who are going through menopause. Not only will regular exercise release endorphins into your system, which are known for causing positive feelings, exercise will also provide a chance for you to take time for yourself. Some women love to run and get lost in their thoughts while other women like to join fitness groups so they can socialize and interact with others. Whatever your preferred workout style, exercising can help your body feel better overall while also increasing muscle mass and preventing bone loss. 

Along with exercise, eating a healthy diet full of nutrients will help your body better respond and manage the symptoms of menopause.

  • Using CBD On A Regular Basis

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a natural element that’s found in cannabis and hemp plants. Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. 

Although extensive research is still being performed on the effects that CBD can have on women who’re going through menopause, more and more women are turning to this natural remedy to help them better manage menopausal symptoms. 

How Does CBD Help Women Going Through Premature Menopause

Your body has a powerful endocannabinoid system (ECS), called cannabinoid receptors, that regulate and affect the function of your brain, organs, and tissues in numerous places throughout your body. As your hormone levels shift due to menopause, your ECS system can be affected in a negative way. As a result, symptoms from menopause can increase. 

Below are a few of the many ways that CBD is believed to be able to help women going through premature menopause manage their symptoms. 

  • Evens Out Mood Fluctuations

Since estrogen and progesterone have an influence on the amount of serotonin and other chemicals in our brains, we’re more likely to be prone to sudden mood swings as we go through menopause. 

Research has shown that CBD can activate serotonin receptors which help to regulate women’s mood fluctuations. Along with activating these serotonin receptors, it can also help to lower some feelings of anxiety or depression that you may be experiencing.

  • Lowers Inflammation Levels

CBD has proven anti-inflammatory properties and can help to protect your joints from inflammatory damage as your estrogen levels drop. It can also help your body feel more fluid and help you better manage some pain levels.  

Try out Botanima Organic’s CBD softgels with curcumin for added anti-inflammatory support. 

  • Could Slow Memory Loss

Many women who go through menopause begin to struggle with their memories. Although this was believed to be a result of age instead of menopause, even women who’re going through premature menopause can experience memory loss

Both estrogen and progesterone assist in encouraging the hippocampus to form new connections in a person’s brain. As these hormone levels bottom out, the hippocampus can struggle to create new active pathways as a result. 

Although more research still needs to be done to determine how CBD improves memory, it seems likely that CBD could help to regulate our memory systems since CBD has been proven to help improve levels of focus. 

Try out Botanima Organic’s premium grade CBD oil to reap the full benefits of this powerful natural element.

Premature Menopause And CBD

Premature menopause is a complex health obstacle that less than 1% women in the US will end up experiencing. Due to its rarity, women can struggle to find the proper literature and treatments to properly deal with premature menopause. 

CBD offers a natural way for women to manage some of their premature menopausal symptoms. As always, consult with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your diet. Your doctor may also be able to advise you on the proper amount of CBD to take. 

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