Women who enter menopause
early (before the age of 40) usually have symptoms similar to those of women who enter menopause later in life, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Emotional problems
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sex drive.
For some women, these premature menopause
symptoms are severe. In addition, women who have premature menopause tend to get weaker bones faster than women who enter menopause later in life. This raises their chances of getting osteoporosis
and breaking a bone.
When making a diagnosis of premature menopause, your doctor will ask you if you've experienced the typical symptoms of menopause
, such as hot flashes, irregular periods, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness. Normally, menopause is confirmed when a woman hasn't had her period for 12 months in a row.
However, with certain types of premature menopause, these potential signs may not be enough for a diagnosis. A blood test that measures follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is usually done. Your ovaries use this hormone to make estrogen. The levels of FSH rise when the ovaries stop making estrogen. When FSH levels are higher than normal, you've reached menopause. However, your estrogen levels vary daily, so this test may need to be repeated for an accurate diagnosis to be made.
You may also have a test for levels of estradiol (a type of estrogen) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Estradiol levels fall when the ovaries fail. Abnormally low levels of estradiol are a sign of menopause. LH is a hormone that triggers ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). If you have higher-than-normal levels of LH, it means you've gone through menopause.