My Experience of Early Menopause
Early menopause occurs when a woman’s periods stop before the age of 45. According to the NHS, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. It can happen naturally or as a side effect of certain treatments. For most women, perimenopause starts around the age of 45 with 51 being the average age of women reaching menopause (12 consecutive months without a period).
Samantha shares her experience of going through early menopause which led to a diagnoses of osteopenia. She discusses the treatment and lifestyle factors she has in place to help manage her condition.
I first noticed that something wasn’t quite right when I started to experience some discomfort and bleeding during sex. After a visit to my GP, and following a blood test, he confirmed that I was in perimenopause. I was so shocked and upset as I was only 38 years old.
My mother also experienced early menopause around about the same age which led to her being diagnosed with osteoporosis. So I knew I needed to do something about it quickly. I was sent for a bone density scan which highlighted that I had low bone density so my doctor recommended that I start taking HRT to replenish the low oestrogen levels. By this time my menopause symptoms had started with hot flushes and some night sweats. I was reluctant to go on HRT as the symptoms were quite mild and manageable. But learning from my mother’s experience who did not take HRT, I decided I had to give it a go.
After a bit of trial and error, I found the right HRT that suited me and have been on the same one for about nine years. I tried a short break from HRT as I was concerned about being on it for a long time, but my symptoms started with a vengeance. The worst symptom I experienced was puffy eyes which made me feel really self-conscious. In addition, I ached all over and had intense hot flushes and night sweats. I felt really rubbish and could not wait to go back on it!
Every three months I have my blood pressure taken. 18 months ago I had a second bone density scan which showed I have osteopenia. This is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis. This diagnosis is very worrying but I have been told that it is not inevitable it will turn into osteoporosis.
I still take HRT and am researching how long I should take it for as there still seems to be some debate on what is the right thing to do. In addition, I take calcium, eat healthily and I don’t smoke. I get lots of exercise to help keep my bones strong. I love yoga, running, cycling and last summer I took up paddle boarding.
Being diagnosed with early menopause prompted me to change my lifestyle and be much more aware of my bone health. Although I live with the fear that I may end up with osteoporosis, like my mother, I do feel that I have some control over what happens by having a healthy, active lifestyle.
If you would like more information and support for early menopause. please contact the Daisy Network – a support group for women with premature ovarian failure.