Premature menopause (premature ovarian insufficiency)

Premature menopause (premature ovarian insufficiency)

If menopause happens before you are 40 it is called premature menopause (or premature ovarian insufficiency).

Diagnosis

Premature menopause is diagnosed using your age and symptoms, as well as information about your family history and medical history (for example, whether you have had medical treatment that is known to trigger menopause). If you are under 40 and having no or very few periods you should be offered blood tests to measure your levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). You should be offered 2 blood tests for FSH, which should be done 4–6 weeks apart (this is because your FSH levels change at different times during your menstrual cycle).

If it is not clear whether you are in premature menopause, you should be referred to a healthcare professional who specialises in menopause or reproductive medicine to confirm your diagnosis.

Treating premature menopause

Treatment for premature menopause usually involves HRT or a combined hormonal contraceptive.

Your GP should explain that:

  • it is important to continue treatment until at least the age of natural menopause, to give you some protection from osteoporosis and other conditions that can develop after menopause

  • the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and breast cancer rises with age and is very low in women under 40

  • both HRT and the combined contraceptive pill are good for bone health

  • HRT may be better for your blood pressure than the combined contraceptive pill

  • HRT is not a contraceptive.

Hormonal treatment is not suitable for some women, for example if you have a history of breast cancer or another type of cancer stimulated by the hormone oestrogen. If hormonal treatment is not suitable, your GP should discuss other possible treatments with you and should give you information about bone and cardiovascular health.

You may also be referred to other healthcare professionals who have the right training and experience to help you to manage different aspects of your condition.

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