Everyone’s menopause evolution is unique. Some women may have sweltering hot flashes in their forties, while others may be subject to jolting mood swings well beyond their mid-fifties. When you experience these symptoms before you expect them, it can be overwhelming and stressful. Whatever menopause looks like for you and whenever it starts to appear, come as you are—we’re ready to help. Here, we’ve outlined some of the major signs of early menopause.
What is Early Menopause and Why Does It Happen?
First, remember that premature menopause and early menopause are two separate experiences. Premature menopause happens before age 40, while early menopause has an onset before 45. The majority of women experience menopause between 45 and 55, with the average age of onset being 51. According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), 5% of women experience early menopause and 1% of women experience premature menopause. Everyone is different: Some women may enter into the transition naturally, while others may be able to attribute the onset of menopause to procedures such as hysterectomies, breast cancer treatments, or chemotherapy that impact the ovaries or stop hormone production.
Genetics are a good indicator of what is to come in your menopausal journey. It is believed that you inherit the age of your menopause onset, meaning that if your mother entered early menopause between the ages of 40 and 45, you likely will too. While genes can tell you more about what to expect during your evolution, they aren’t the full story. Lifestyle can also trigger early menopause. Smoking cigarettes can deplete estrogen levels, bringing on menopause earlier than expected. Studies have also shown that a vegetarian diet, low BMI, and lack of sun exposure throughout your life can lead to early menopause. There are pre-existing conditions that may influence early menopause, too. Epilepsy, chromosomal defects, and autoimmune diseases all present an increased risk for early menopause.
What are the Symptoms of Early Menopause?
Experiencing perimenopause before age 45 is a sign of early menopause and will present as menopausal symptoms: Think hot flashes, mood changes, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, night sweats, or difficulty sleeping. You also may see a decrease in your sex drive due to the vaginal dryness and the stress associated with entering menopause earlier than expected. If that happens, consider Kindra’s daily vaginal lotion, a cult favorite that blends hydrating extracts with essential vitamins to offer almost immediate relief. (Seriously: A whopping 95% of women reported a meaningful improvement after just two uses.)
What Are the Stages of Early Menopause?
Menopause is the natural evolution that occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs, thus resulting in low estrogen levels. These lowered levels of estrogen trigger a series of bodily responses commonly known as menopausal symptoms. You will know you’re in menopause when you don’t have a period for 12 months straight.
Whether you enter menopause early or not, the first stage you will enter is perimenopause. Perimenopause is when you’ll start feeling symptoms like irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. The term perimenopause literally means around menopause. You’ll notice your period becomes irregular and once it starts to taper off, you’ll know you’ve hit the menopause stage.
Menopause is that 12 month period (no pun intended) without a menstrual cycle. This may be a time when you feel all menopausal symptoms at a heightened rate. Mood swings and hot flashes on your mind? Our Core Dietary Supplement is designed to help. Struggling with brain fog and menopausal fatigue? Try our Energy Boosting Dietary Supplement to feel empowered as you move through this season of change. Can’t sleep thanks to night sweats? Menopausal insomnia relief is just around the corner with our Sleep Enhancing Dietary Supplement.
What if You're Experiencing Premature Menopause?
If you're experiencing menopausal symptoms before age 40, you're experiencing premature menopause. While this isn't clinically termed as early menopause, it is an earlier experience of menopause. This experience can be caused by premature ovarian failure, also known as ovarian insufficiency. (Trust us, we hate the term, too). If you experience your ovarian failure before the age of 40, you'll likely begin to transition into menopause. If this sounds like you, be sure to consult with your health care provider for further support.
Early Menopause Treatment Options
There's a range of support available for early menopause concerns, from medical treatments to natural offerings. If your first stop is your healthcare provider, your doctor is likely to review your family history and run blood tests on your hormone levels to measure your follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH). Increased FSH levels are a clear indicator of menopause, so if you haven't made it a full 12 months without a menstrual period, that may be of interest to you. If you've been without a menstrual period for over 12 months, your health care provider may suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Hormone therapy isn't an option for everyone though, so read on if you're interested in holistic treatment options for these pesky hormonal changes.
Here at Kindra, we offer a wide range of solutions that tackle everything from vaginal dryness to menopause-induced insomnia. Acupuncture, too, has a proven track record of making menopausal symptoms a bit more manageable. A balanced, healthy diet is key, and getting regular exercise is just as important. Not only can diet and exercise help you weather menopausal changes and avoid unnecessary weight gain, but they can also serve as excellent prevention for other medical conditions that are typically associated with midlife evolution like heart disease and diabetes. Minimizing your intake of caffeine and spicy food can help ease the frequency of hot flashes while yoga, meditation, and even psychotherapy may prove helpful for those mood changes.
Remember: You're Never Alone
Menopause can be stressful at any time, but it can be especially overwhelming when it arrives earlier than expected. But we’re here for you, and tons of other women are, too. We even built a Facebook group full of kindred spirits, where we tackle everything from how to enjoy intimacy in later life to our go-to remedies for hot flashes. Community is everything, and we'd love to call you into our crew. Join us here.