Premature Menopause (Medical Procedural Causes) (cont.)

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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 surgery removal of the female organs.

What are the symptoms for premature menopause?

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The symptoms of premature menopause are those of typical menopause. They can include:

  • mood swings,
  • vaginal dryness,
  • cognitive changes,
  • hot flashes,
  • decrease in sex drive, and
  • sleep disturbances.

Irregular periods usually precede the menopause and can begin years before periods actually cease.

What tests are used to diagnose premature menopause?

No special tests are needed to determine the absence of menstrual periods, but sometimes women having symptoms of menopause and irregular periods may be tested to determine their ovarian function. For example, tests may be done to rule out pregnancy or other causes of missed menstruation, like certain thyroid diseases. The level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is often measured in the blood to determine whether a woman is nearing menopause and how well her ovaries are working. FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen, so levels of this hormone rise when estrogen levels drop. FSH levels that are higher than 40 mIU/ml are considered characteristic of menopause. Levels of ovarian hormones such as estradiol may be also measured, as low levels (levels less than 32 pg/ml) are suggestive of menopause.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/26/2013

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