18 Mar Early Menopause and Premature Ovarian Insufficiency- Symptoms and Naturopathic Tips
Most women don’t hope for an early menopause, but for some women with it’s a reality. Here’s some helpful information on early menopause and and premature ovarian insufficiency or failure.
Early menopause simply means that your ovaries stop working before menopause, which usually in North America is at around age of 51. Is premature menopause the same thing as premature ovarian failure, or what the National Institute of Health now refers to as premature ovarian insufficiency. And the answer is not exactly.
Premature menopause means that your ovaries stop working entirely, whereas with premature ovarian insufficiency, your ovaries still have a little bit of life left in them, it’s just sporadic. So you might get a period every now and then and there’s still a chance (not a huge chance, but a chance) that you can get pregnant.
Both these conditions are pretty rare. About 5% of women between 40 and 45 years old will experience spontaneous early menopause, whereas just 1% of women under 40 will experience premature ovarian insufficiency. Aside from things like chemotherapy or surgical removal of your ovaries, the primary causes of premature menopause include: genetics, autoimmune disease (like thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chromosomal disorders like Turner’s Syndrome). In terms of lifestyle factors, cigarette smoking has been linked to it.
Physicians usually suggest waiting until 3 months after you have gone without a period and are also experiencing some of the ‘wonderful’ symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, night sweets, irregular sleep… If this is the case, hormone testing for estradiol and FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) as well as thyroid function to see whether or not it might be happening. Also, if you have a history of late onset period, for example after the age of 15 or 16, there is a higher chance of you developing premature menopause as well.
If this happens, the long term effects include a greater chance of developing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, heart disease, and osteoporosis as well as infertility and possible depression and anxiety. Mental health impact of this physical condition is important to be aware of.
The treatment for early menopause and premature ovarian insufficiency is pretty much the same as menopause, focusing on bio-identical estrogen therapy and vitamin D supplements to strengthen the bones. As for preventing premature or early menopause, recent research has looked at Coenzyme Q10, vitex agnus, vitamin C, vitamin D, and DHEA to lower FSH and help optimize anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). I have also very successfully treated diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) with daily doses of melatonin combined with coenzyme Q10. Bio-identical progesterone and black cohosh can help with luteal phase deficiency (which results in low progesterone).
If early menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency is something you have experienced, or if you know someone who has experienced it, or even if it’s something that worries you, please reach out. I can help you identify the best preventative or treatment strategies based on your symptoms, risk factors, health status, and life goals!
I treat patients locally at my Naturopathic practice in Vancouver, B.C. and worldwide via phone or Skype.
To honoring your health potential!
Licensed Naturopathic Physician, Menopause Clinician, Acupuncturist, Author, and Health Educator