While the average age for menopause onset in the United States is 51, some women undergo the “change of life” much earlier – sometimes even before age 40.
This could occur as the result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy; an autoimmune disease such as lupus, hypothyroidism or Graves’ disease; or because of a genetic predisposition.
“The signs of menopause are typically the same, whether you experience it early or in your 50s,” says Jessica H. Lemmons, MD, FACOG, obstetrician and gynecologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “You may start missing your periods, or having periods that are lighter than usual. Hot flashes are also a common symptom.”
Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, loss of bladder control, mood swings and mild depression, decreased sex drive and difficulty sleeping.
If you think you may be undergoing premature menopause, your doctor can order blood tests to measure your estradiol levels.