Menopause has always been associated with women who have thinning gray hair, facial wrinkles, and a large number on their birthday cakes. But shockingly, menopause can come right after high school graduation. Reality bites.
Early-onset of menopause occurs in about 1% of women between the ages of 15-45. While these two seem the same, these are actually two different things. It is considered as early if it happens before a woman turns 45 years old. However, if menopause happens before a woman is 40 years old, then it is called premature menopause.
While there are a number of apparent reasons which cause premature menopause in women, doctors are unable to explain why some younger women are experiencing premature menopause.
The most evident causes are:
1 Premature Ovarian Failure
This is the naturally-occurring premature menopause. This means that a woman’s ovaries fail to function properly. The ovaries may have stopped producing eggs or the hormones needed for ovulation. POV is caused by several factors. Sixty-five percent of POV cases are due to autoimmune disorders. This is characterized when the body produces antibodies for its own products. Another factor is genetics. A small percentage of women have the tendency to start menopause early like their mothers. Some women though are just born with fewer eggs than the body requires, resulting in early menopause.
Infographic by Indira IVF
2 Surgical Menopause
Health reasons may require women to undergo surgery which would result in early menopause. This type is a conscious decision by women to have menopause earlier than they are supposed to have it because it is the best option with regards to their health. One such surgery is hysterectomy or the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and sometimes the ovaries.
Infographic on the different types of Hysterectomy via Wikipedia
Different types of surgeries can have an impact in the onset of menopause.
3 Cancer Therapy
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can actually result in early menopause. While these treatments are aimed at destroying cancer cells, healthy cells, particularly the ovarian cells, are also destroyed during these processes. Some cancer patients who have gone through these treatments have temporary menopause, while others menopause permanently.
4 Menopause due to Infection
Menopause, although very rarely, can actually be caused by infections associated with tuberculosis and mumps. These infections sometimes infect the ovaries which can result in early menopause.