Menopause: How premenstrual disorders can raise risks

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Researchers say premenstrual disorders could be an indicator of early menopause risk. preCorinna Kern/Getty Images
  • Researchers are reporting that premenstrual disorders could contribute to early menopause.
  • Understanding who is at risk for early menopause can help medical professionals target women who may experience health conditions later.
  • Symptoms of early menopause are the same as menopause. Treatments are available to help relieve the discomfort of these symptoms.

Researchers who evaluated health data from 3,635 women in the United States are reporting that premenstrual disorders (PMD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDD) are associated with early menopause and moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS).

Their findings were published today in the journal JAMA Network Open.

In their study, the scientists defined menopause as not having menses for 12 consecutive months. Participants self-reported the age at which they reached menopause.

  • Early menopause was defined as occurring before age 45.
  • Normal menopause was defined as occurring between the ages of 45 and 54.
  • Late menopause was defined as occurring after age 55.

Women also assessed whether VMS symptoms were mild, moderate, or severe as well as the duration of symptoms, such as less than 5 years, 5 to 9 years, or 10 or more years.

A total of 1,059 participants with PMD and 2,235 women without PMD reached menopause during the study period.

After evaluating the data, researchers determined that:

  • Women with PMD had an increased risk of early menopause.
  • There was an association between PMDs and VMS, although this was a plus/minus result.

Health information came from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which collected data from 1991 to 2017.

The researchers note that this information could help medical professionals target women in their reproductive years with the highest risk of health conditions due to early menopause.

Early menopause puts women at risk for premature mortality, cardiovascular, neurological disease, psychiatric disease, and osteoporosis, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In some cases, it is possible to reduce adverse reactions of early menopause with estrogen treatment.

The lower the age, the higher the risk.

“Menopause occurs when one’s menstrual cycles have stopped for an entire year – 12 months. Some signs of potential early onset menopause are the same as perimenopausal symptoms,” said Dr. Asima Ahmad, the chief medical officer and co-founder of Carrot Fertility and a practicing reproductive endocrinologist and fertility expert who was not involved in the study.

“These include irregular periods or bleeding, a lower ovarian reserve, vasomotor symptoms (e.g., hot flashes, night sweats), changes in one’s libido, and insomnia,” Ahmad told Medical News Today.

According to Ahmad, some of the causes of early menopause include:

  • Family history
  • Genetic factors, such as Fragile X permutation
  • Smoking
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Iatrogenic, for example, chemotherapy or oophorectomy – surgical removal of ovaries or part of the ovaries
  • Infectious diseases, for example, pelvic tuberculosis

Women who go through menopause early may have symptoms or Health problems similar to those of regular menopause, according to the Health and Human Services" rationale="Governmental authority">Office on Women’s Health.

However, some women with early or premature menopause may also have:

  • More severe menopause symptoms
  • A higher risk of heart disease and osteoporosis

Since menopause signals the end of a woman’s ability to get pregnant, some women feel sadness or develop depression because they lost their ability to have children.

“It is hard to predict when a woman will go through menopause and there isn’t anything we can do to change it,“ said Dr, Jennifer Wu, an OB/GYN at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York who was not involved in the study.

“While menstrual disorders can contribute to early menopause, it isn’t the only factor,” Wu told Medical News Today. “There was some discussion about inflammation in the study and I think we need more research into that area to find out how that contributes too early menopause.”

Dr. Laura DeCesaris, a health and performance consultant as well as a coach, provided Medical News Today with these tips on how women can lower their discomfort when going through menopause:

  • Know your options – there’s bioidentical hormone replacement therapies that are helpful for many women, in addition to various lifestyle changes that can really change the trajectory of your experience during this time of hormone transition.
  • Limiting alcohol intake and improving your nutrition, focusing on increasing your protein and fiber and keeping your blood sugar in check. Taking care of your metabolic health is important.
  • Talk with your practitioner about supplements that may be helpful. For example, some herbs such as black cohosh can be helpful for women experiencing vasomotor symptoms, while creatine can be extremely beneficial for brain health during this transitional time.
  • Stress management becomes key. Support adrenal health, do plenty of walking and add strength training to the mix, find self-care options that work for you to keep it in check
  • Ask for support – Start educating yourself on what’s happening in your body. It’s hard to ask for what you need when you’re not certain what’s happening, and working with someone to help you guide you through it can take some of the pressure of you to figure it out all on your own.
  • Finding community and having a strong network around you is linked to a longer health span for women – it helps to not feel like you’re along during a major transitional time and to have connections with others who get it.
  • Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs. They can interfere with other medications and you should always check to make sure that they will be safe for you.

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