But I am only 40! Can this be menopause?

95% of women enter menopause after the age of 45. In 1% of women, menstruation ends prior to age 40, in 1:1000 prior to age 30, and in 1: 10,000 prior to age 20. The menstrual cycle may also end prematurely because of surgical removal of the ovaries, radiation or chemotherapy.

If your periods end early, the symptoms may feel like menopause, but it is very different. Medically it is called Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). It is not menopause!

If your periods have stopped, you need to see your doctor to find out why (see the website YourPeriod.ca). If your doctor determines that you have POI, or if you have lost ovarian function because of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, your doctor will recommend:

  • That unless you have a specific reason that prevents you from taking hormones, you should start taking estrogen and progesterone to replace these very important hormones that are now lacking. Research has shown that women who are not given hormone replacement are at increased risk of heart disease, dementia, Parkinsonism and a premature death.
  • That you continue hormone therapy until the age of natural menopause.
  • That you start mammography at the usual time. Women whose periods end early are at a lower risk of breast cancer.

If your periods end early and you wish to have children, an infertility specialist will be able to discuss your options. Some women whose menstrual cycles end early will ovulate occasionally; the chance of pregnancy is small, but it is there. In other cases, egg donation and in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be an option.


Whatever your situation, there are strategies to help you manage the transition.
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