It’s critical for women to know what’s going on with their bodies and their hormones. It’s also never too early to talk about early menopause. Premature menopause happens to women before age 40 and early menopause happens before age 45. The symptoms for these conditions are similar to natural menopause. Since women are estimated to spend a third of their lives in menopause, we should all know what to expect sooner rather than later. 

CEO and founder of INSO Inc., Carleeka Basnight-Menendez is passionate about helping women navigate menopause with confidence. She works to help organizations retain talent in a job market where menopause costs an estimated $1.8 billion in lost productivity annually.

“Menopause is a transition that can be embraced and navigated with the right tools, treatment plan, and team,” she explained.

The same rule-of-thumb applies to premature menopause as well. Your menstrual cycle and your hormones can give you data about your health and help you keep track of any premature menopause symptoms. Here’s what premature menopause might look like.

What Is Premature Menopause 

Premature menopause is the transitional phase before menopause. Basnight-Menendez explained that it occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning normally before she is 40 years old. The median age of menopause is 51 years of age, whereas pre-menopause symptoms can begin before the age of 40. 

This condition leads to a decrease in the production of estrogen and other hormones, which results in the stop of menstrual cycles and the onset of menopause-like symptoms. 

Possible Causes 

Although the causes of premature menopause are often unknown, some causes can be genetic factors and autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease, thyroid disease, or rheumatoid arthritis. Basnight-Menendez explained that these disorders can lead to POI (premature ovarian insufficiency). 

Medical treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical removal of the ovaries (partial/total hysterectomy), or surgical removal of the uterus may also cause premature menopause. Other possible causes include smoking cigarettes, having AIDS/HIV, and, although rare, infections like mumps that can affect the ovaries. 

The Effects of Pre-Menopause

According to Basnight-Menendez, pre-menopause can significantly impact a woman’s daily life in numerous ways. Physical symptoms might include weight gain, hot flashes, irregular periods, and joint pain. Pre-menopause can affect a woman’s emotional and mental health. It can cause mood swings, insomnia, and cognitive and concentration issues. 

Pre-menopause might also affect a woman’s sexual and reproductive health. Symptoms might include vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and discomfort during sex. A woman might also see an impact on her daily activities and find a lack of energy or difficulty concentrating. This might impact her work performance, her social life, and her exercise and health maintenance. 

In order to manage these symptoms, Basnight-Menendez encourages women to utilize the same tools for pre-menopause, menopause and postmenopause. She emphasized the importance of implementing a balanced diet, good sleep habits, regular movement, stress management and medical treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if feasible. It’s always best to consult with your medical team providers first.