Premature Menopause

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Is there any treatment for premature menopause?

There is no treatment that can reverse or prevent premature menopause. However, women who have reached menopause do have treatment options that can help control unpleasant symptoms.

Types of treatments for symptom relief include:

  • Hormone therapy: hormone therapy (HT, or estrogen therapy, ET) is available in different forms including pills, patches, transdermal sprays, or gels or creams. Localized hormone treatments are also available for intravaginal use. HT/ET is the most effective way to control symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Because HT/ET has been associated with certain health risks (heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer), experts recommend using the lowest effective dose of hormone therapy for the shortest period of time necessary for symptom control.
  • Oral contraceptive pills are a form of HT that is sometimes used to help relieve menopausal symptoms.
  • Antidepressant medications: the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and related medications have been shown to be effective in controlling the symptoms of hot flashes in up to 60% of women.
  • Non-hormonal vaginal gels, creams, and lubricants can help prevent the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
  • Assisted reproductive technologies: in selected cases, pregnancy may be achieved using donor eggs in women with premature menopause.

What are complications of premature menopause?

Women with premature menopause are faced with the challenges of infertility if they desire pregnancy. This can be accompanied by feelings of emotional distress and depression.

There is also an increased risk of osteoporosis in women with low estrogen levels. Women with premature menopause have a longer time period of their life of decreased estrogen production and this, in turn, increases their risk for low bone density. This risk may be offset by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, consuming plenty of dietary calcium, and obtaining weigh-bearing exercise.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for premature menopause?

The prognosis for women with premature menopause is related to the circumstances and cause of the condition. If premature menopause occurs due to surgery or cancer treatments, the prognosis is related to the underlying reasons for these treatments. Women with premature ovarian failure for undefined causes may be at increased risk for osteoporosis, as mentioned above. These women may also be susceptible to cardiovascular disease in later in life, although this risk has not been fully studied.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

REFERENCES:

American Pregnancy Association. Premature ovarian failure.

Womenshealth.gov. Early menopause (premature menopause).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/17/2016

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