Let's talk about early menopause. One of the biggest challenges about hearing the phrase “early menopause” is that there's so much negativity around “menopause”. There's a lot of conversation of how horrible it's going to be. We can call agree that menopause is a big deal. We know that it's end of one important phase of a woman's life so they can enter the next one.
When you add the term early to menopause and get “early menopause”, it makes it even worse! For anything that you’re not excited about or something where predominant messaging is about its challenges and problems, an early arrival won’t be very welcome.
Especially in the case of menopause and a woman’s reproductive years. Early menopause means and early end to a woman’s reproductive years and those who are looking to be mothers will be impacted. This is particularly important because modern women today tend to delay becoming mothers to pursue professional careers.
Let's clarify what early menopause is. Menopause is actually the point in time where women are no longer menstruate and it’s marked technically when women have not had a period for 12 months in a row. So that's menopause is actually just a point in time and the average age in the US and the UK is 51. So, any time before that, i.e., in your 40s and even in your 30s, is considered early menopause. That’s it.
Early menopause is not necessarily a problem. It just happens early than most. There are many reasons this could happen. It could happen surgically, if you have a hysterectomy. It could happen because the hormonal balance and cycles are really different, and the body has come to a point where it no longer wants to menstruate. There may not be anything wrong. As always, it’s best to check for any more serious medical issues that could be underlying the hormonal changes with you.
Here’s the critical clarification: it is apparent there is much confusion about what we mean when we say “early menopause”. Early menopause seems to be used to refer to the time before menopause when symptoms arise and changes are afoot. This is actually perimenopause. So, it can be confusing if “early menopause” is actually referring to perimenopause.
Now that we know that, let’s talk perimenopause. If you don’t know what it is, you are not alone. So many women are in the same position! A lot of women don't know what it is, haven't heard of about it, don't know how to identify it. But don’t worry. We are here to fix that. Perimenopause is the phase before the periods stop, before the actual day of menopause (remember that menopause technically the 12-month mark after the last period?). This is when symptoms happen because the hormonal levels and hormonal patterns are changing. And that's sometimes confused as early menopause. Perimenopause is a thing, women will go through it and have symptoms and want to do something about them.
And that’s the next big questions. What to do about symptoms? For perimenopause, the hormonal changes can be addressed with hormone replacement therapy which is typically synthetic estrogen and/or progesterone or with natural plant-based remedies. There is ongoing research about hormone replacement therapy to determine how effective, what dosage, and who should be using it. If you're interested in HRT, continue to do more research and talk to your doctor who can prescribe it for you.
The other way to approach relieving symptoms is through plant-based remedies. Plants have been used for centuries in different regions around the world and have shown efficacy in scientific research to address certain symptoms. Two that are beneficial for perimenopause-related symptoms are chasteberry to normalize cycle length and I3C or DIM to metabolize excess estrogen which can cause heavy bleeding and clotting.
So when it comes to it, early menopause, don't be worried. Pay attention to your symptoms. If you are a concerned, see a medical professional, get some tests, and make sure nothing more serious is happening. But if it is in fact related to the natural change of a hormones as a woman ages, you really should be all right.