Menopause at 40: why does it happen and what should you expect?

Knowing what menopause is and when menopause begins is essential, especially if you have started menopause early. The reason is that this can lead to symptoms and discomfort that often require medical follow-up. We want you to live this stage of your life in the best possible way. That's why here we tell you all about menopause at 40.

Causes of menopause at 40

Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is called premature; if it is before 45, it is known as early. Approximately 5% of women worldwide experience one of these scenarios (Women's Health, 2021).

These occur when, prematurely, the ovaries stop producing hormones and the menstrual period disappears at a younger age. The main causes are (NHS, 2021; Pinkerton, 2021; Women's Health, 2021):

  • Primary ovarian failure.
  • Family history of women with early menopause.
  • Smoking (can bring menopause forward by up to 2 years and worsen the intensity of symptoms).
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer.
  • Surgery to remove the ovaries (this starts menopause right away and can also increase symptoms).
  • Surgery to remove the uterus (this can bring it forward by 2 years).
  • Thyroid disease.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Infections such as tuberculosis, mumps, and malaria.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities such as Turner syndrome and fragile X syndrome.
  • Diabetes.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of menopause at 40

In some women, there are no symptoms in the first stage, although they may experience a lack of menstruation. In others, however, the classic symptoms appear. Thus, early oestrogen depletion may cause (NHS, 2021; Pinkerton, 2021; Assisted Reproduction ORG, 2022):

  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse).
  • Decreased sexual desire.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Weight gain with an accumulation of belly fat.
  • Headache.
  • Night sweats.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Palpitations.
  • Hot flushes.
  • Mood swings.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Parkinson's disease.
  • Impairment of cognitive skills.
  • Heart disease.
  • Ovarian cancer (when caused by chromosomal abnormality).

Complications of menopause at 40

Early menopause, as menopause at 40, can bring with it some complications. The main ones are (NHS, 2021; Assisted Reproduction ORG, 2022):

  • Increased risk for developing heart disease, osteoporosis, and joint pain.
  • Aggravated menopausal symptoms.
  • Increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Early infertility.
  • Depression.
  • Premature ageing.

Recommendations for reducing symptoms

The main treatment for the symptoms of early menopause is hormone replacement, which helps reduce the risk of complications. Your doctor may prescribe oestrogen and progesterone to regulate your body's functioning. This is usually treated up to the age of 50 or 55. Then it is decided whether to continue treatment or not, depending on your case.

If you are unable or unwilling to use hormones, talk to your doctor about alternative natural treatments. For example, those used to treat symptoms individually, such as antidepressants. There are also therapies, such as meditation, yoga, massage, and aromatherapy, that can help reduce the intensity of symptoms.

Healthy eating, exercise and mental well-being can also help to improve menopausal symptoms (NHS, 2021; NHS, 2022; Mayo Clinic, 2021).

There is no doubt that menopause at 40 can bring with it many changes, sometimes difficultly to cope with and accept. This is especially true if they occur prematurely. It is therefore essential to seek medical and psychological help. Also, remember not to self-medicate, as this can mean a high risk to your health and an increase in complications.

References:

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Menopause. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353401

National Health Service . (2021). Early menopause. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/early-menopause

National Health Service . (2022). Menopause. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/things-you-can-do

Pinkerton, J.V. (2021). Premature Menopause. MSD Manuals. https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/menstrual-disorders-and-abnormal-vaginal-bleeding/premature-menopause

Reproducción Asistida ORG. (2022). Menopausia precoz o prematura: causas, síntomas y tratamientos https://www.reproduccionasistida.org/la-menopausia-precoz/#causas

Women's Health. (2021). Early or premature menopause. https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause


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