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Early Menopause

Women's Health | June 3, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

women's health

Early Menopause

Menopause occurs when a woman stops ovulating and her monthly menstruation cycle ceases. Most women reach menopause between the ages of forty five and fifty five, with the average age being fifty one. However, about one per cent of women experience menopause before the age of forty years. This is known as premature menopause. Menopause between forty one and forty five years of age is called early menopause. Women can be affected in their teens or early twenty’s. Approximately one in one thousand women reach menopause before the age of thirty.

Symptoms of Premature and Early Menopause

The symptoms of early menopause are the same as for menopause at the normal ‘average’ age and can include:

  • Menstrual cycle changes, including changes to the usual bleeding pattern, particularly irregular bleeding
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweats, day or night
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Urinary problems, such as increased frequency of urination or incontinence
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes
  • Increase or decrease in weight
  • Aches and pains.

Causes of Early or Premature Menopause

Unknown causes

In as many as sixty percent of cases, the cause for early menopause cannot be can’t be found. This is known as idiopathic premature menopause.

Autoimmune conditions

Then to thirty per cent of affected women have an autoimmune disease such as hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Genetic conditions

Five to thirty per cent of women with early or premature menopause have an affected female relative, which suggests a genetic link. Genetic conditions which can lead to early or premature menopause include: 

  • Galactosaemia. This is when the body cannot convert the carbohydrate galactose into glucose. It is thought that the unconverted galactose could be toxic to the ovaries.
  • Conditions characterised by enzyme problems, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
  • Turner’s syndrome. A chromosomal abnormality than can cause early menopause, but this is usually evident before puberty.


Women who smoke may reach menopause as much as two years before non-smokers.

They may also get more severe menopause symptoms.

Research suggests that women who have early or premature menopause and smoke die about two years earlier than non-smoking women.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Women with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome have extreme tiredness, weakness, muscle and joint pain, memory loss, headache, unrefreshing sleep, and other symptoms. Research has found that women with these syndromes are more likely to have early or premature menopause.

Chemotherapy or pelvic radiation treatments for cancer.

These treatments can damage the ovaries and cause menstruation to cease.


Surgical removal of both ovaries will cause instant menopause.

Health Issues that affect Women in Early Menopause?

All women are at an increased risk of developing menopause-related health issues once they go through menopause. However, compared with women who go through menopause naturally and at the average age, women undergoing premature menopause spend a greater portion of their lives without the protective benefits of natural estrogen. This puts them at an even greater risk for menopause-related health problems.

Losing estrogen earlier than normal can increase the risk of:

Natural Therapies for Early Menopause

Herbs for Early Menopause


Natural Therapies for Early MenopauseVitex agnus-castus has been clinically proven to relieve hot flushes.  

It also has many of the same hormone-balancing properties as black cohosh such as:

  • helping to regulate hormones tied to sleep problems
  • fibroids
  • skin changes 
  • irregular periods


Research shows that vitex increases luteinizing hormone, modulates prolactin and aids in the inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone, which all helps balance out the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, slightly raising the levels of progesterone.

Black Cohosh

Cimicifuga racemosa. This herb can help prevent menopausal symptoms including hot flushes and night sweats. Research shows it might also help improve sleep quality and reduce hormonal imbalances tied to diabetes or fibroid.

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense. This can help prevent loss of bone density and lower risk for heart complications. Red clover contains isoflavones that have positive effects in reducing symptoms related to estrogen loss — such as:

  • hot flushes
  • trouble sleeping
  • weight gain 
  • bone loss
  • bone fractures
  • osteoporosis
  • cardiovascular problems
  • inflammation of the joints.

St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum. This herb has been safely used for over two thousand years, often to lower anxiety, depression and sleep-related problems. It may be able to help stabilize mood, reduce inflammation, improve sleep and make the emotional/mental transition through menopause easier.

Diet for Early Menopause

Probiotic foods

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin. They’re even capable of raising immune function and protecting cognitive functioning. The best sources include yogurt, kefir, cultured veggies such as sauerkraut or kimchi, kombucha and other fermented foods.
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Omega-3 and Flaxseed

Diet for Early MenopauseOmega-3 fats from fish and flaxseed can protect the heart, promote smooth skin and help to counteract inflammation.

Some of the best sources include wild-caught salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.

Studies show that frequently consuming omega-3s facilitates hormone production and therefore are essential in helping with menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, heart complications, depression and breast cancer.
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Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are the building blocks for hormone production. They keep inflammation levels low, boost the metabolism and promote satiety that is important for preventing weight gain. Unrefined oils provide essential vitamin E that helps regulate estrogen production.  Virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil all contain these important fats. Other sources of healthy fats include avocado, coconut milk, nuts, seeds and wild seafood.

High-fibre Foods

Research shows that Fibre is important for cardiovascular and digestive health, plus maintaining a healthy weight. Some studies have found that diets higher in fibre may help balance the production of estrogen. High-fibre diets are also associated with less weight gain, healthier cholesterol levels and reduced constipation. Some of the best sources include nuts, seeds, legumes/beans, ancient grains, avocado, veggies and fruit.
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Cruciferous Vegetables

Diet for Early MenopauseVegetables in the cruciferous family such as broccoli, cabbage and kale contain indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen levels.

These veggies are also high in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and electrolytes that are important for blood pressure and heart health.
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Kanadys WM, Leszczynska-Gorzelak B, Oleszcuk J. Efficacy and safety of Black cohosh (Actaea/Cimicifuga racemosa) in the treatment of vasomotor symptoms--review of clinical trials. Ginekol Pol. 2008 April; 79(4):287-96.

Van de Weijer PH, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas. 2002 July 25; 42(3):187-93

Borrelli F, Ernst E. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): a systematic review of adverse events. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2008;199(5):455-466.

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