Premature Menopause: Why me?

What are the possible causes of premature menopause?

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

POF is diagnosed when the ovaries stop producing ova before the typical age when menopause occurs. The usual age of menopause is about 45-55. Women with POF may go through menopause as early as their 20s and 30s. There is no known drug treatment to restimulate the ovaries, and there is no known cause of this condition. POF can be a devastating experience, especially if the woman has not yet been able to have the number of children she had hoped for.

This situation often calls for a special support group. To learn more about an online support group or find a referral to in-person support, go to the Web site of the Premature Ovarian Support Group or to the Great Britain-based Daisy Network.

Surgical Menopause

When the uterus is surgically removed at the same time as both ovaries, menopause will begin immediately and the symptoms will be more extreme than when menopause occurs naturally. When only the uterus is removed and the ovaries are left intact, menstruation will cease, but other symptoms of menopause will not occur until the age at which they would be expected naturally.

Before surgery, the woman should get a baseline reading of her hormonal level. That way, after the hysterectomy, her doctors can attempt to reestablish the hormone levels that felt right to her, for example, via hormone replacement therapy.

Medical Menopause

Women undergoing chemotherapy for cancer may go into temporary or permanent menopause. Ovaries can be damaged by chemotherapy, which can result in decreased production of hormones. This can cause either temporary or permanent infertility. More information about drug-induced menopause can be obtained from the Web site for The National Cancer Institute. provides support and further information for women undergoing early menopause, no matter what the cause.

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