Premature Menopause: What to look for

While most women begin the process of menopause in their late 40s and early 50s, some experience symptoms much earlier. Premature menopause occurs before a woman is 40, with some women first experiencing symptoms in their mid-30s. Roughly 1 in 100 women will experience menopause by the age of 40. Medical treatments such as radiation therapy to treat cancer and surgery to remove the ovaries can result in premature menopause. In addition, other factors such as genetics, chromosome defects, hormonal disorders, thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases and certain lifestyle choices including smoking can bring on early menopause.
Women undergoing premature menopause typically experience the same symptoms as women going through natural menopause due to decreasing estrogen levels in the body. However, in addition to dealing with normal menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings, many women undergoing premature menopause have to deal with additional physical and emotional symptoms. For example, since the onset of menopause signals the end of a woman’s child bearing years, women who want to get pregnant are likely to experience infertility issues.

Bladder Control Difficulty 

Urinary incontinence is a common symptom of menopause and aging and can greatly impact a woman’s life. You may feel as though you cannot play sports, jump, run, cough or sneeze without the embarrassment of leakage.  Urinary incontinence occurs when weakened pelvic muscles, caused by decreasing estrogen levels associated with menopause, fail to hold back urine. In addition, overweight women may be more susceptible to urinary leakage because excess weight can add further strain on the pelvic floor muscles. If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, you do not have to accept occasional bladder leakage as another side effect of menopause. Ask your physician how the MonaLisa Touch, a nonsurgical fractional laser treatment, can help rejuvenate the pelvic floor muscles, vaginal walls and urethra. The quick and virtually painless laser treatment increases blood flow and helps build collagen, which reduces pain and leads to better urinary function. Many women report an improvement in their symptoms after receiving the treatment. The MonaLisa Touch also tones and lubricates the vagina, resulting in less pain and more enjoyment during sex.

Joint Pain

Joint pain is one of the most common menopausal symptoms and can also be one of the most debilitating as it affects mobility and the range of movement. More women experience joint pain and osteoarthritis than men. This may be due to the fact that declining estrogen levels during menopause affect the hydration of the joints, ligaments and tendons, which in turn cause aches, stiffness, swelling and the sensation of heat around the joint. The joints most affected are usually high impact joints like the hips and knees, hands and fingers. Joint pain associated with menopause is usually worse in the morning when joints are stiff from not being used overnight, but tend to loosen up during the day as movement increases. Staying hydrated is vital for many menopause issues, including joint pain. Regular physically activity such as walking, swimming and cycling will help strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Also, decreasing the amount of caffeine, carbonated drinks, salt and sugar in your diet can reduce inflammation in the joints. A diet high in magnesium-rich foods including nuts, seeds, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables can help with joint and muscle aches.

Memory Loss

Many women going through menopause often feel as if they are walking around in a brain fog. During this time, fluctuating levels of estrogen in your body can have an effect on your short-term memory. Estrogen contributes to memory, language skills, mood, and other brain functions. Studies show that close to 60% of women report that their memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Memory lapses occur when you momentarily forget everyday things like where you put your eyeglasses, or what you were supposed to buy from the grocery store. Another symptom of menopause is that you may find it difficult to concentrate or might have a brain freeze when trying to remember a certain word or name. To help keep your mind sharp during menopause, a few lifestyle changes can improve these bouts of memory lapses you may be experiencing, including physical activity, getting more sleep, a healthy diet and keeping stress to a minimum.

Skin changes

Menopause not only affects your body internally, it affects you externally as well. The hormonal changes that take place during and after menopause can greatly impact your skin’s physiology. The decrease of estrogen can make your skin prone to thinning, sagging and wrinkling. In addition, your body stops producing the same amount of collagen, causing your skin’s elasticity to decrease. Similar to your teenage years, acne can crop up again during perimenopause. After menopause, your skin can also become dry as oil glands become less active. Drinking plenty of water and using heavier creams to moisturize can help boost your skin’s hydration. As the levels of estrogen in your body drop, so does the amount of collagen in your skin. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, such as flaxseed and berries, may help make your skin stronger from the inside out. In addition, exercising can also help your skin look brighter and healthier by increasing oxygen and blood flow.