For many of us, our 30s, compared to our 20s, come with a host of positive changes. We may feel secure in our careers, ready to purchase a home, or even start a family.
At the same time, every rose has its thorns. Nowadays, we may not recover as quickly after a weekend out with our friends and, our new definition of a party is vegging out on the couch after a stressful workday.
Whilst stress can cause uncomfortable symptoms that could interfere with our quality of life, such as insomnia, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, anxiety, and depression, these symptoms can also indicate the onset of early menopause.
This possibility may prove difficult to stomach when you’re trying to start a family, especially if you thought you had years before you had to worry about this major life change.
Can stress cause menopause to start prematurely?
Symptoms of stress and premature menopause are similar. For instance, when we’re stressed, we may experience irregular and then non-existent menstrual cycles.
Research shows whilst stress doesn’t seem to directly cause early menopause, women who suffer from an excessive amount of daily stress may have a reduced age at natural menopause (ANM), meaning they could experience it under the age of 40.
Some women may also experience early menopause if they suffer from primary ovarian insufficiency, which means their ovaries fail to produce normal levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause means “around menopause”, and is also known as “menopause transition.”
This is a gradual transition that often occurs in our early 40s or eight to ten years before full menopause. During this time, we may experience insomnia, fatigue, hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, and depression.
What is the difference between premature menopause and perimenopause?
According to the North American Menopause Society, when a woman, 40 years or younger, experiences menopause (no menstruation for 12, consecutive months) she is experiencing premature menopause. Here, you may experience some perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
Whereas, for women over the age of 40, who experience natural perimenopause, the range of symptoms is vast and characterized by irregular periods (which haven’t stopped completely), vaginal dryness, low energy, fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood swings, and weight gain.
What are the causes of early menopause?
Genetic factors and chromosomal abnormalities
Genetic and environmental factors may impact the age we experience menopause. One study suggests “Genetic variants are known to contribute to ∼50% of the variation in age at menopause.” If you have a family history of early menopause, this could influence when you experience it.
Chromosomal abnormalities, such as Turner Syndrome and Fragile X, can also impact the onset of early menopause. For example, Turner Syndrome is a congenital genetic disorder found in girls and women and is caused by a partially missing or non-existent X chromosome.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 1 in every 2500 women worldwide are born with Turner Syndrome. Women with this disorder may have smaller than average ovaries which may function occasionally or not at all. They often do not produce enough sex hormones, and may not experience menstrual cycles.
An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system interprets part of the body as an invader and then attacks it. As a result, higher levels of inflammation occur, which can wreak havoc on your ovaries.
Early menopause may be a symptom of an underlying autoimmune disease, such as thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, or AIDS.
Research indicates that approximately 20% of women who experience early menopause also suffer from an autoimmune disease. It can be a good idea to discuss your family history with your doctor if autoimmune disease runs in your family.
Mumps is the most common infection said to impact early menopause because it can cause oophoritis, an infection in the ovaries that can lead to ovarian failure. One study claimed that pelvic tuberculosis can also cause endometrial destruction and ovarian failure, and it occurs in 3% of all cases.
Lifestyle factors and stress
When our bodies endure prolonged stress and aren’t properly nourished or rested, we may experience symptoms similar to early menopause, such as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Smoking can also influence the age we experience menopause. One study reports that a current smoker who smokes 14 or more cigarettes per day may experience menopause 2.8 years earlier than women who have never smoked.
What can I do if I am experiencing early menopause?
Consult a doctor to rule out other conditions
Some of the symptoms you may experience during early menopause may masquerade as symptoms of a different condition altogether. For example, heightened anxiety, fatigue, and weight gain could also indicate a thyroid disorder.
Discuss options around fertility and starting a family
It can be tough to reach a point in your personal life where you feel prepared to start a family, only to find out that you might not be able to do so in the way you had planned.
In general, women in their mid-to-late thirties can still conceive and deliver a healthy baby. If you’re experiencing symptoms of early menopause, consider speaking with your doctor about all options available for you to start a family. From freezing your eggs, undergoing IVF or hormone replacement therapy, exploring surrogacy, or fostering and adoption, there are many ways to become a parent.
You could also consult a host of valuable online resources that will answer many of the questions you might have:
- Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
- Resolve: The National Fertility Association
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
Make lifestyle changes to reduce stress
For many of us, multiple issues contribute to our stress and anxiety.
Between balancing professional obligations and running a household, we may feel exhausted and frazzled. Multiple factors can contribute to the stress you’re feeling, so it may be helpful to make a list of your top stressors.
We can manage our stress in several ways—by eating a nutritious diet, exercising daily, improving our sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night, and waking up to the same alarm the next day. Also, limiting your time on social media may help you prioritize your mental energy and set boundaries. Or even incorporating an all-natural supplement like Earths Secret’s Calm Complex could help you relax and fight daily stress.
Access support through counselling or support groups
When we suffer from fatigue, anxiety, depression, or early symptoms of menopause, it may feel isolating. The last thing many of us want to do is socialize with other people when we’re feeling low.
Behavioural therapy, counselling, or a local or online peer support group could serve as an extra shoulder to lean on when you’re not feeling like yourself.
Supplement with natural ingredients to regulate your hormones, energy, and mood
Supplements can be a great way to boost your hormonal and emotional health. Some options you might want to consider include:
Otherwise referred to as Indian ginseng or poison gooseberry, ashwagandha is a shrub indigenous to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Its roots and leaves are a pillar in ancient Ayurvedic medicine and are used as a stress-relieving, mood-balancing tonic that can fight depression and insomnia.
You can find this herbal supplement at many health and wellness shops. It’s also sold in many forms—from capsules to gummies, extracts, powders, herbal tea, and even in chocolate bars. This supplement can also boost your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, and increase male fertility.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fats that don’t exist naturally in our bodies. We must consume them by eating foods such as mackerel, salmon, shellfish, flaxseed oil, and nuts, or by taking a fish oil supplement.
Omega-3s boast numerous benefits for our mental and physical health. They can fight symptoms of anxiety and depression, boost cognitive functioning, and contribute to retina health. In addition, research shows they may have a positive effect in reducing the progression of atherosclerosis.
Magnesium is one of our essential macrominerals, meaning we must consume a large quantity of it, at least 100 mg daily.
It’s important for bone health and supporting our immune systems, maintaining our nervous system, and regulating blood pressure. For women in early menopause, magnesium supplements can help with insomnia, fatigue, and mood swings.
Magnesium exists in several foods, such as spinach, shellfish, and nuts, yet some of us may experience a deficiency. Magnesium supplements are affordable and readily available as capsules, gummies, powder, liquid extracts, and tea.
Relief from early menopause is closer than you think
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, but not all of them need to disrupt your way of life. By investing in your well-being through a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and nutritional supplements, you may feel better prepared to tackle the symptoms of an unpredictable condition like early menopause.
Earths Secret’s Calm natural food supplement is all-natural, vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and free from preservatives.
Its five ingredients— GSM 66 Ashwagandha, Holy Basil Leaf, Rhodiola Rosea, L-Theanine, and Black Pepper—can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety from early menopause, and increase your concentration, so you can focus on thriving in the face of any life change.