Menopause is a natural function that starts when a woman begins experiencing changes to her menstrual cycle. Periods may be shorter with minimal flow or last longer and produce a heavy flow. As menopause progresses and hormone levels fluctuate you will experience other symptoms, most notably hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats and fatigue. While these symptoms can last up to 10 years hormonal signs of menopause generally last a few years and typically begin when you’re in your mid – to late – 40s.
Most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age hovering around 52. For some women menopause hits prior to age 45. That’s referred to as early menopause. And there are some women who suffer from premature menopause which occurs prior to age 40. Whenever you experience menopause, understand that ovarian reserve is greatly diminished and becoming pregnant naturally for anyone with early or premature menopause is extremely unlikely.
When Will Menopause Occur?
Your biology and family history offer the most insight into the expected onset of your menopause. Although not set in stone, the age your mom experienced menopause provides an estimation of when you will experience it.
According to one study those women whose mother, sister, aunt or grandmother experienced an early onset of menopause (prior to age 46) have a 37.5% greater risk of entering menopause early themselves. There is an even greater risk for those women who had a direct blood relative experience menopause prior to age 40.
Does Early Menopause Mean I Can’t Have a Baby?
Early menopause, obviously, impacts your fertility. The period leading up to menopause, known as peri menopause, lasts, on average, about four years, but can last anywhere from a few months to several years. During this time your hormones are fluctuating and although ovulation is occurring, your eggs are diminished in quantity and quality. As this transition progresses your chances of natural conception are significantly reduced.
As with most rules there is the exception. Natural conception and pregnancy do occur in some instances right up until menopause happens (12 consecutive months without a period).
Signs of Early Menopause
There are signs and symptoms you should know if you suspect you may go through menopause early. They are the same symptoms that indicate menopause in older women as well. Heavy bleeding, longer periods, spotting between periods, missed periods are some indicators you are approaching menopause. Other symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of or diminished libido
- Loss of bladder control
Measuring Your Hormone Levels Indicates Approaching Menopause
For those whose mother, sister, aunt or grandmother experienced early menopause and have concerns about their own fertility, there are tests to measure your hormone levels and estimate how close you are to menopause.
- Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is a proven way doctors use to identify your ovarian reserve. Your AMH levels correlate with the number of eggs you have in reserve. If your AMH measures in the normal range you probably have a sufficient number of eggs. When your AMH levels begin to diminish so does your ovarian reserve, indicating menopause is approaching or present.
- Estrogen decreases as menopause approaches so measuring estrogen levels can be an indication of where you are on the menopause timeline, although during the transitional period, it may not be reliable.
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels rise as menopause approaches. FSH along with other hormone measurements can suggest menopause is approaching, although the levels do not predict exactly when it will happen.
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone measurements cannot confirm a diagnosis of early menopause. Frequently people confuse hypothyroidism for menopause as the symptoms are very similar.
Fertility Treatment May Help You Conceive
Although early menopause isn’t reversible, there is treatment available to accomplish a pregnancy. IVF plays a big role in assisting women in perimenopause to achieve conception. Depending on how close you are to menopause you may use your own eggs or your doctor may suggest donor eggs as the more viable option.
If you already know early menopause is a likely scenario but you’re not ready to start a family yet you may choose to freeze your eggs for future IVF. The process is becoming more popular and is a safe way to preserve your fertility.
For those women struggling to conceive or who already anticipate early menopause the best approach is to contact LA IVF now. Our compassionate team is knowledgeable and prepared to help you grow your family. We offer the latest in cutting edge technology and clinicians dedicated to your dreams for your family.