Premature Menopause Increases Emotional and Physical Symptoms

Premature Menopause Increases Emotional and Physical Symptoms

Menopause symptoms are no fun. Some of the symptoms are physical, like hot flashes. Others are emotional, like mood swings. Yet others are sexual, like vaginal dryness or decreased sex drive. Would these symptoms be different for women who go through menopause at an earlier age compared with women who go through menopause later in life?

That is the question a new study in the journal Menopause wanted to answer. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51 years. But for one in one hundred women, menopause happens before age 40. It’s called premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) or Premature Menopause. The new study found that when POI happens, all the symptoms of menopause happen earlier and typically, with a lot more severity.

The researchers studied nearly 300 Chinese women with POI and compared their symptoms with those of women who went through menopause naturally.

The symptoms that were much more severe included mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction, which they defined as vaginal dryness, painful sex (dyspareunia), and decreased libido.

Earlier studies have shown that POI can also lead to a higher risk of some chronic illnesses such as osteoporosis, heart disease, mood disorders, cognitive impairment, and sexual dysfunction. Even more worrisome, it can also lead to a shorter life expectancy and smaller brain volume.

These studies combined make a strong argument for women who go into menopause at a young age to talk with their healthcare providers about treatment to protect their long-term physical, psychological and sexual health. When possible, treatment with estrogen at least until the age of natural menopause can help to reduce their symptoms and their risk for chronic illnesses.  

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