Early onset menopause is a thing, and here's what you should know
If you’re a human on this planet, then you’ve undoubtedly heard of menopause — the natural stage of a woman’s life in which she ceases to menstruate. It comes with a variety of not-so-pleasant hormonal changes (if you’ve been through it or know a woman who has, then HOT FLASHES undoubtedly comes to mind), and can affect women in a variety of ways — usually when they’re about 50. But it turns out that early menopause is a very real thing, and can affect women as early as in their teens (shout out to Cosmo.com for bringing this to our attention!).
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that premature menopause affects around 1% of women before the age of 40, and affects 5% of women under 45. Unfortunately, doctors do not currently know the cause of why it occurs in some women and not others. But Dr. Heather Currie of the Royal College says it’s important to consult your GP if you think it may be happening to you, and that symptoms include, “infrequent or no periods, hot flushes, reduced sex drive, vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex, headaches, mood changes, palpitations, joint stiffness, and urinary tract infections.”
Perhaps the most scary side effect for some women — especially those who may want children — is the fertility issues that come with early menopause. One young woman who began menopause at 17 years old told Cosmopolitan.com that she began experiencing severe depression because of this issue.
She went on to say, “My body told me something wasn’t right. I began to get what I described as ‘hot flushes’ – little did I know that was what they actually were! The doctors said just this week that my ovaries have stopped working and there’s nothing they can do. I’ve been put on the pill to provide me with the hormones I’m lacking in.”
If there’s one thing to be learned from this story, it’s that it’s so incredibly important to listen to our bodies. Often it’s the first way to know that something isn’t right — and the first step to getting the medical help we’ll need to feel better.
If any of the above symptoms seem familiar to you, don’t hesitate to seek help (and that includes therapy and mental health support as well!). You should never have to suffer alone, and know that there are definitely others going through the same thing who can relate.