By Nikhila Henry| Hyderabad
Menopause need not necessarily hit women in their fifties. As per a curious health trend, several women approaching city gynecologists with menstrual complaints were found to have had early menopause that hit women anytime between 35 to 45 years of age.
This, even as the World Health Organization calculates 51 years as the average age of menopause among women.
For Swati (name changed), her 35th birthday celebrations last year had not gone too well. While she was long past her menstruation date, she had experienced nothing more than erratic spotting. “After 35, my menstrual cycle became rather erratic where there was either too much or too little gaps in between the cycles. It was only recently that I consulted a gynecologist to realise I could have hit menopause already,” Swati, who is now 36 years old, said. In most cases, early menopause is caused by rapid hormonal changes in the body induced by change in lifestyle, food, sleep cycle and stress, gynecologists opined. In some cases, the reason could also be hereditary, they said. In three of the top super speciality hospitals in the city, an average of 40 women with early menopausal symptoms come for treatment every six months, doctors said. Over a decade or more ago, the count used to be less than a handful during the same time span.
Young women who experience early menopause usually do not notice or acknowledge the bodily changes they go through. “When you reach menopause, your body experiences several changes. But when it happens at an early age, women hardly think of menopause as the cause and treat themselves for weight loss or gain and go for hormonal therapy,” said Dr. Santha Devi, a Hyderabad-based gynecologist.
Among the common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes where the face or skin burns up without any apparent cause, spotting and erratic menstrual cycle.
For senior gynecologists, causes of early menopause should be researched on. “Whether the cause is genetic, lifestyle or even environmental is still to be asserted, and research in this area is a must,” said Dr. Santha Kumari, organising secretary of the Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecological Societies of India, adding that pollution and climate change too could be affecting menstrual health of women.
Young women reaching their mid-thirties could keep up a healthy menstrual cycle and also look forward to wellbeing after menopause if they regulate food habits. From sticking to low fat food to eating fibre content, women could help sculpt their diet habits to make their bodies healthy, doctors said.