Skip to content

    Menopause Health Center

    Select An Article

    Premature Menopause

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    In the U.S., the average age of onset for "natural" menopause is 51. However, because of genetics, illness, or medical procedures, some women go through menopause before the age of 40. Menopause that occurs before this age, whether natural or induced, is known as "premature" menopause.

    In addition to dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms that accompany menopause, many women undergoing premature menopause have to cope with additional physical and emotional concerns. For example, because menopause signals the end of a woman's fertile years, a woman who wishes to get pregnant is likely to have trouble.

    Recommended Related to Menopause

    Menopause: Is There Life Beyond Hormone Replacement Therapy?

    Menopause gets a bad rap, but there is an upside. A major, essential, glorious one, says Renzie Richardson, a 51-year-old human resources consultant from Cumming, Ga. “I was definitely happy not to have a period anymore. That in itself was a celebration.” Still, the wider ramifications of going through The Change threw her for a loop. “I thought the period was gone -- that was it. But now you’ve got all these other symptoms you have to deal with.” Richardson was taken by surprise by hot flashes,...

    Read the Menopause: Is There Life Beyond Hormone Replacement Therapy? article > >

    What Are the Symptoms of Premature Menopause?

    Symptoms of premature menopause are often the same as those experienced by women undergoing natural menopause and may include:

    • Irregular or missed periods
    • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
    • Hot flashes (a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the upper body)

    These symptoms are a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen.

    Along with the above symptoms, some women may experience:

    In addition to the symptoms listed above, if you are under the age of 40 and experience any of the following conditions, you should see your doctor to determine whether you are undergoing premature menopause:

    How Is Premature Menopause Diagnosed?

    To diagnose premature menopause, your doctor will most likely perform a physical exam and draw blood to rule out other conditions, such as pregnancy and thyroid disease. He or she may also order a test to measure your estradiol levels. Low levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, can indicate that your ovaries are starting to fail. When estradiol levels are below 30, it may signal that you are in menopause.

    However, the most important test used to diagnose premature menopause is a blood test that measures follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH causes your ovaries to produce estrogen. When your ovaries slow down their production of estrogen, your levels of FSH increase. When your FSH levels rise above 40 mIU/mL, it usually indicates that you are in menopause.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    woman walking outdoors
    How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
    mature woman holding fan in face
    Symptoms and treatments.
     
    marking on calendar close up
    Some of these may surprise you.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    senior couple
    Video
    mature woman shopping for produce
    Article
     
    Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
    Article
    mature couple on boat
    Article
     
    mature woman tugging on her loose skin
    Slideshow
    senior woman wearing green hat
    Article
     
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
    supplements
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections