Early Menopause 101: The Causes and SymptomsThere’s not one definite, identifiable cause of early menopause. “Often, someone who has POI has elevated follicle stimulated hormone (FSH) with raised gonadotropins and low estrogen levels,” says Dr. Lynae Brayboy, M.D., OB-GYN, the chief medical officer at Clue, a period tracker app. “Gene mutations or chromosome changes (sometimes called abnormalities) are implicated in 10 to 20 percent of cases. However, there is emerging evidence that mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in eggs … produced by the ovary may be linked to POI.” She adds autoimmune diseases, adrenal gland dysfunction, and exposure to toxicants from chemotherapy and cancer radiation can also contribute. Having your ovaries removed is another cause, according to Dr. Cary L. Dicken, M.D., FACOG, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with RMA Long Island IVF. But mostly, it comes down to the aforementioned genetic and autoimmune issues, Dr. Dicken affirms.
You’re not alone in what you’re going through, and other people want to support you and your well-being.“Many causes of early menopause are assumed to be autoimmune in nature,” Dr. Dicken says. “Those at risk for inheriting a genetic factor that can cause premature menopause have a higher risk. Also, women with autoimmune polyglandular syndrome are at higher risk.” If you’re not on hormonal contraceptives, you may experience early menopause symptoms such as vaginal dryness, sleep abnormalities, sexual dysfunction, and hot flashes, according to Dr. Brayboy.