Early Menopause Risk Factors, Prevention, Symptoms And Treatment


It is natural for women in perimenopause to skip periods frequently. Often, menstrual periods halt for a month, then start up again or stop for a few months, then start up again. Moreover, they are more common because periods frequently occur on shorter cycles. Now that you have begun the menopausal transition, you should think about getting a pregnancy test if you are unsure whether you missed a period.

A woman or individual who was designated female at birth (AFAB) may experience early or premature menopause, which occurs earlier than is normally anticipated. When a person's menstrual cycles stop, this is known as menopause. Menopause naturally commonly begins at age 51. You have entered menopause once you have gone 12 months without having a period.

When it occurs is what separates early menopause from premature menopause. Menopause is not a stage, but rather the moment when menstruation stops.

Menopause before the age of 45 is referred to as early menopause.

Premature menopause is defined as menopause that starts before the age of 40.

When a woman's periods end before the age of 45, early menopause occurs. It can occur spontaneously or as a side effect of some medications.

You should consult a doctor if you are under 45 and have observed that your periods are becoming less regular or ceasing entirely.


Several of the factors that contribute to early menopause might also contribute to premature menopause. Cancer treatment, surgery, or specific medical disorders are a few of these causes. Yet, the cause may not always be known. Menopause can be brought on by anything that harms your ovaries or prevents your body from producing oestrogen. Several of the symptoms of menopause are also present in early and premature menopause.

A few reasons for an early or premature menopause include:

  • Radiation or chemotherapy are used to treat cancer.
  • Ovaries are removed during surgery.
  • Having your uterus removed via surgery (hysterectomy).
  • Early menopause in the family history.
  • First period before the age of eleven.
  • Chromosomal anomalies like Turner's syndrome or Fragile X.
  • Autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, Crohn's disease, or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Smoking tobacco.
  • ME/CFS stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • AIDS or HIV positive.
  • Infections resembling mumps.

Often early or premature menopause has no apparent cause. Up to 50% of people experience this.

The ovaries quit functioning

If a woman's ovaries stop producing normal amounts of certain hormones, particularly the hormone oestrogen, early menopause may occur spontaneously.

This condition is also known as primary ovarian insufficiency or early ovarian failure.

The causes of premature ovarian failure are largely unknown, however, in certain women, they may include:

Chromosomal anomalies, such as Turner syndrome patients, an autoimmune diseases, where the immune system begins attacking body parts, and rare infections include tuberculosis, malaria, and mumps.

It is possible for premature ovarian failure to run in families. This may be the case if any of your ancestors experienced menopause when they were quite young (their 20s or early 30s).

Cancer therapies

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may result in premature ovarian dysfunction. This may be permanent or transient.

The likelihood of experiencing an early menopause depends on:

  • The type of treatment you receive - different types of chemotherapy may affect the ovaries differently where on your body any radiotherapy is focused 
  • If you are undergoing radiotherapy treatment near your pelvis or brain, your risk of experiencing early menopause is increased.
  • Your age – younger girls can withstand more severe therapy than more mature ladies.

Ovaries are removed with surgery.

The surgical removal of both ovaries will also cause early or premature menopause.

For instance, during a hysterectomy, the ovaries might need to be removed (an operation to remove the womb).

Risk Factors

Early menopause sufferers typically have more severe menopause symptoms. Loss of closeness or dysfunctional sexual behaviour may result from these symptoms.

Also, those who go through early or premature menopause lose the advantages of oestrogen for longer. Lack of oestrogen increases your risk of contracting diseases like:

  • Osteoporosis.
  • Heart illness.
  • Depression.
  • Many neurological illnesses like Dementia and Parkinson's disease.


A few years before your final period, you can begin to have irregular menstrual cycles. Some of the earliest symptoms of menopause include longer or shorter menstrual cycles, spotting in between periods, or changes in vaginal bleeding. Speak with a healthcare professional if you have irregular periods to determine the potential causes.

Many of the classic menopause symptoms are among the additional indicators of premature and early menopause. You might encounter:

  • A hot flash (sudden warmth that spreads over your body).
  • Sweats during the night.
  • Vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.
  • Frequently needing to urinate.
  • Urinary tract infections more frequently (UTIs).
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • Emotional alterations (irritability, mood swings, depression or anxiety).
  • Dry eyes, dry mouth, or dry skin.
  • Breast sensitivity.
  • Pounding heart.
  • Headaches.
  • Pains and aches.
  • Alterations to your sex drive (libido).
  • Having trouble focusing or remembering things more easily.
  • Gain or lose weight.
  • Hair thinning or loss.

The primary sign of early menopause is irregular or absent periods that occur for no apparent reason (such as pregnancy).

Some common menopausal symptoms that women may experience include:

  • Diminished sex drive and discomfort in the vagina during intercourse
  • Difficulties sleeping low mood or anxiety (libido)
  • Memory and attention issues


The majority of early menopause causes are beyond your control. The only lifestyle choice that might lead to early menopause is smoking. Quitting smoking can lower your risk of going through menopause. The majority of the time, it is impossible to avoid the other causes of menopause, such as medical disorders, surgeries, or cancer therapy.


Depending on the cause of the early or premature onset of menopause, different treatments may be necessary. Providers advise hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to the health hazards of early menopause unless hormone therapy is unsafe for some other reason (such as if you have had breast cancer).

Some of the lost hormones in your body are replaced by HRT. This lowers your risk of health concerns brought on by early or premature menopause and lessens the symptoms and side effects of menopause. Clinicians commonly recommend HRT up until the age of 51.

It is crucial to go over the advantages and disadvantages of hormone therapy with your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your alternatives if early or premature menopause caused your infertility.

The combined contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace lost hormones is the major treatment for early menopause.

In order to provide you with some protection against osteoporosis and other diseases that can arise after menopause, a doctor will likely advise you to continue this treatment at least until the age of natural menopause (which is often around 51).

You might not be able to receive hormonal treatment if you have had certain cancers, such as some types of breast cancer.

The doctor will discuss further therapeutic choices and way-of-life modifications with you that can help safeguard your health.

If you are still experiencing problems, the doctor can recommend a specialized menopause clinic for you.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 30, 2023

Next review due: Mar 30, 2025

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