Premature Menopause (Medical Procedural Causes) (cont.)

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What causes premature menopause?

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One medical causes of premature menopause is known as premature ovarian failure. Technically, premature ovarian failure is not the same as premature menopause. In premature ovarian failure, the ovaries stop functioning normally before the age of 40. Women with premature ovarian failure may still occasionally have menstrual periods but typically experience infertility. Premature ovarian failure is sometimes called primary ovarian insufficiency; the result of premature ovarian failure usually causes the symptoms of premature menopause.

Premature menopause can also be caused by treatments for cancers or other conditions that involve chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to the pelvis. These treatments can damage the ovaries and result in ovarian failure.

Surgery to remove the ovaries, either for benign or malignant conditions, results in premature menopause if both ovaries are removed. Surgery to remove the uterus results in menopause only in the sense that menstrual bleeding does not occur, but the ovaries, if not removed along with the uterus, continue to produce hormones.

Other infrequent causes that may lead to premature menopause include drugs, chronic diseases, pituitary and hypothalamic tumors, psychiatric disorders, and other relatively rare or undefined conditions.

Who is at risk for premature menopause?

Premature ovarian failure affects about 1 out of every 1000 women from ages 15 to 29 and about 1 out of every 100 women aged 30 to 39. It can be related to genetic (inherited) factors, to illnesses like autoimmune diseases or thyroid disease, viral infection, hormonal disorders, or an eating disorder. In particular, premature ovarian failure risk increases in women who have relatives with the condition.

Women at risk for surgical or treatment-induced menopause are those who are undergoing treatment for cancer or other conditions that require surgical removal of the female organs.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014

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