This helpsheet offers a collection of specially-written resources designed to help you manage and cope with common symptoms of early menopause.
Our team have tackled both physical and emotional aspects of early menopause to bring you the first online-only guidebook for navigating your diagnosis equipped with the best knowledge and tips.
Each helpsheet in this self-help guide has been specially written to help you understand why these symptoms occur, and practical steps you can take to tackle them.
Note: if you’re still unsure whether you’re really in premature menopause or not, consider checking our hormone levels page and consult your doctor.
The physical effects of premature menopause are experienced slightly differently from one woman to the next. These symptoms may be a mild nuisance for one individual, but debilitating for another.
Hot flashes are often portrayed as an irritating but ultimately minor inconvenience. However, they can be deeply uncomfortable and embarrassing at the best of times. Surgical menopause often leads to more intense hot flashes than most other menopausal women will experience.
Their cousin, night sweats, can be a major contributor to insomnia —itself a potential cause of fatigue and low mood. This is often the last thing you need when dealing with the serious blow of an early menopause diagnosis.
Although we often don’t realize it, the way we perceive our own womanhood is often intricately tied to our fertility — our ability to get pregnant and give birth to a child. When menopause comes along much earlier than we expected our self-perception can be radically altered for the worse, at least temporarily. Menopause-related weight gain can be most unwelcome at a time like this. It may exacerbate those feelings of self-consciousness and loss at a time when we’re already trying to come to terms with major changes in our body.
Irregular periods are typically an annoyance more than anything, but it often helps greatly to understand their cause and how we can prepare ourselves for them before they catch us off-guard.
Long-Term Health Considerations
After the jolting shock of learning you’re in premature menopause, you’d be forgiven for focusing your attention on the short-term fallout.
Nevertheless, women who experience menopause early are known to face longer term health risks that may emerge down the road. Being proactive about your health now can help to minimize those risks.
If anything positive can emerge from early menopause, it is the realization that our health cannot be taken for granted. We can treat this new chapter as an opportunity to take the extra care of our bodies we may not have previously.
After premature menopause the hormonal environment in your body is different to other women the same age. The loss of estrogen is particularly pertinent when it comes to safeguarding your heart and bone health respectively. These helpsheets explore why this is the case and some of the steps you can consider to protect these aspects of your health as best you possibly can.
The loss of your fertile years is a psychological as well as a practical concern. Even if you have children already, the sense that a part of your womanhood has been stripped away from you can be a major emotional hurdle to overcome. However, this blow can be even harder if you were hoping to start a family but hadn’t already.
In the first two-part helpsheet we explore spontaneous pregnancy after premature menopause, egg donation, surrogacy as other experimental techniques under research at present. Next, we look closely at the alternative option of adoption.
- Coming To Terms With Premature Menopause
- Coping With Emotional and Mental Symptoms
- Overcoming Early Menopause — A Story
Depending on your circumstances, premature menopause may be one of the hardest events you have to navigate in your life. This journey can be an emotional one every bit as much as it is a physical one.
First there is the grief of learning you’re in menopause much earlier than you expected. This is a huge blow in itself. It may have scuppered your family plans or affected your personal relationships.
Compounding this is the complex relationship between your fluctuating hormones and your mental state. These hormonal changes can cause or magnify emotional symptoms like low mood, anxiety, irritability, concentration difficulties and fatigue.
The three helpsheets above tackle each of these difficulties in turn. They also offer an insight into the journey other women have taken in finding acceptance of their premature menopause.
Intimacy and Relationships
Understanding from your partner or significant other can make the difference between coping well with premature menopause and struggling greatly with it. Opening his or her eyes to the formidable challenges you’re facing as a woman in premature menopause can help your partner to develop a greater empathy and understanding for your mental state.
There are also aspects of your intimate life that can be hindered by early menopause. Changes to your vagina can make it necessary to take on board some practical tips regarding your sex life. Your partner can also help ease this transition in your life by helping you to feel desirable as the same wonderful woman you always were.
Navigating Your Medical Care
- Finding the Right Doctor
- HRT vs. Birth Control Pills
- Working with your Doctor
- Making Sense of HRT
- The WHI HRT Study & Implications
- Breast Cancer & HRT
As a medical concern, premature menopause is something you’ll navigate alongside your doctor. Everything else is merely a complement to that main source of care in your life.
However, the way you choose your doctor, and the way in which you work with him or her can make a big difference in the way your treatment pans out. We tackle the joint issues of first finding the right doctor and then working alongside them effectively throughout your treatment.
Meanwhile, debates have raged about the relative merits of different kinds of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Specifically, the argument has focused on “natural” or so-called bio-identical hormones and their synthetic counterparts. We explore the scientific evidence behind both and discuss whether or not a significant difference really exists.
We also look at the large scientific studies that have been conducted on HRT, and it’s health risks generally. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream coverage has focused on these studies from the perspective of women who’ve gone through menopause at the “normal” age. Instead, we look at these studies through the lens of premature menopause.
What Does the Science say about “Alternative” Remedies?
In these two helpsheets we look critically at the science underlying some of the most commonly touted supplements and herbal products for menopause. Remember to consult your doctor before starting if you do decide to incorporate alternative remedies into your approach to premature menopause.
A Final Word
Whether you use follow these helpsheets one-by-one or you simply pick-and-choose those that are most relevant to you, I hope it can offer some kind of support and relief. It is common to have a lot of questions and confusion in the early stages of dealing with premature menopause. You might also consider visiting our support group.
Also remember that our main symptoms page on this site contains a huge amount of information on all of the most common physical and emotional effects of premature menopause. It’s also a great source for concise tips on dealing with each of these symptoms.