Causes of early menopause as Coronation Street’s Faye is diagnosed at age 20

While the average age for a woman in the UK to reach the menopause – when oestrogen levels drop and a natural pregnancy is no longer possible – is 51,it isn’t only something that happens in middle age.

AsCoronation Street viewers have seen when 20 year old Faye Windass (played by Ellie Leach) was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, or early menopause, earlier this week, menopause can affect younger women too.

In fact, according to theDaisy Network, early menopause affects around one in 100 women under the age of 40 and one in 1,000 women under the age of 30.

What’s more, around one in 10,000 women under 20 are also affected by the condition.

Faye’s unfolding storyline on the cobbles comes after an increasing number of celebrities have worked to remove the stigma of ‘The Big Change’.

FromDavina McCall toLisa Snowdon, more and more famous faces are using their platforms to raise awareness and help open up conversations between millions of women across the country.

So, following Faye’s experience on Coronation Street, OK! spoke exclusively tohormone expert Dr Martin Kinsella to find out more about early menopause…

What is early menopause?

“Early menopause is when a woman’s ovaries stop making certain hormones such as oestrogen, therefore resulting in their periods stopping,” says Dr Kinsella. “This is sometimes called premature ovarian failure or primary ovarian insufficiency.

“Early menopause is considered to be menopause before the age of 45. This can happen naturally or because of a side effect of treatments,” he explains.

What causes early menopause?

As Dr Kinsella mentions, early menopause can be a result of treatments, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy, but can also occur naturally.

In around 90% of cases, the cause of premature ovarian failure is unknown. However, in some instances there is a known cause.

“It can be caused by a number of things such as autoimmune disease, certain infections and chromosome abnormalities,” adds Dr Kinsella.

“Sometimes it runs in families so if your relatives went through the menopause in their 20s or 30s then you’re more likely to.”

As noted by Dr Kinsella, some causes of early menopause include:

  • An autoimmune disease
  • Turner syndrome
  • Infections such as TB, Malaria and mumps (this is very rare)
  • Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, in which case premature ovarian failure may only be temporary
  • Surgery to remove the ovaries

What are the symptoms of early menopause?

While the main symptom of approaching menopause is periods becoming irregular and then stopping, menopause can affect women in various ways.

“There are a large number of signs of early menopause which can impact a person both physically and psychologically,” says Dr Kinsella.

“Symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes, problems sleeping, low sex drive, fatigue, changes in weight gain.”

Are there any treatments for early menopause?

“Fortunately there are now a number of effective treatments for women experiencing early menopause,” Dr Kinsella adds. “This could be the combined contraceptive pill or HRT. In most cases Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help to re-balance the hormones and reduce symptoms.

“If you’re concerned you may have this, or have been diagnosed, then I would advise looking at lifestyle factors which can help, such as weight, diet, and alcohol and drug consumption.

“I would also advise seeking expert medical advice in order to find the right treatment that works for you. A blood test can identify if you are going through the early menopause and then suitable treatment can be sought.”

For more information about early menopause, visit nhs.uk.

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