The reality is that hormone imbalance can occur at any age, whether it is at 23 or 63 years old. This can make it difficult to assess whether a woman is in early menopause or whether things are just “off.”
The average age for women in industrialized countries to go through menopause is 51 years old, however, some may start as young as 39 years of age. Early menopause, on the other hand, typically begins before the age of 39 years.
Keep in mind that “going through” menopause and being fully menopausal (commonly referred to as postmenopausal) are different categories.
A woman is generally considered postmenopausal once she has gone without a menstrual period for 12 straight months. Even if she starts her period at the ninth month mark, she has to start the counting over.
This does not necessarily mean her symptoms disappear, just that she is officially no longer able to reproduce and has transitioned to the next phase of being female. She can stop buying feminine products!
The phase before postmenopause is considered perimenopause, where a woman is transitioning out of her fertile years.
This is often marked by symptoms such as insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, mood swings, skin changes, joint aches, irregular/skipped, periods, heavy periods and more.
These symptoms are a direct result of the hormone changes caused by the ovaries and their effect on the adrenals, thyroid and brain.
Many women in their mid-to-late thirties have been dismissed by their health care providers as being too young to be in menopause, with their symptoms blamed on other issues such as stress, depression or lifestyle factors.
While this may be true and is worth checking out, it is also important for a proper hormone evaluation including the follicle stimulating hormone test (FSH) done on day 2 or 3 of a menstrual cycle.
Once this number gets into the double digits, and especially once a woman is consistently above 30mIU/ml, menopause is pretty evident.
It can be challenging to test women who have irregular or skipped periods or for women whose cycle changes from month to month because the symptoms can be episodic.