premature and early menopause

While most women reach menopause in their 50s, there are plenty of us who start menopause earlier. From the age of 30, you should be on the lookout for signs of premature and early menopause.

You could start showing signs of entering premature or early menopause in your 30s or 40s. When your hormones start changing, you may experience hot flushes, mood swings, changes to your menstrual cycle and more.

To find out more about the signs of premature menopause and how it's different from early menopause, read on!

What is premature menopause and early menopause?

 Stages of Menopause Age  Percentage
 Early Menopause <40 5%
 Premature Menopause 40-44 15%
Premature Menopause 45-49 35%
Menopause 50-52 30%
Menopause 53+ 15%

Many women think premature and early menopause are the same thing, but they aren't. Both premature and early menopause have similar symptoms, but they happen at different times in a woman's life.

Premature and early menopause are types of menopause that occur in women at a younger age than usual. Menopause happens when your ovaries stop making enough hormones to cause regular ovulation and menstrual cycle.

The most common problem associated with menopause at any age is decreased fertility. When your ovaries reach menopause, it can have a massive impact on your body. This happens during menopause at any age.

Premature menopause is when a woman enters menopause in her 20s or 30s. Going into premature menopause under the age of 40 is unusual but does happen for some women.

Early menopause is when a woman enters menopause in her 40s. This is slightly earlier than standard but not very uncommon. Normal menopause begins during your 50s or even older.

What are the stages of menopause?

There are three stages of menopause that happen no matter what age you begin menopause.

Premature and early menopause will still follow the three stages;

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Post-menopause.

Perimenopause happens when your ovaries and hormone levels first begin to change, causing the well-known symptoms of menopause. During this period, your menstrual cycle will continue but will likely become increasingly irregular.

The next stage is actual menopause. This is when your menstrual cycle stops almost completely for around a year. You may experience some bleeding, but it is rare.

The final stage is known as post-menopause, which is when your hormones settle down and you no longer have a menstrual cycle or any symptoms of menopause.  


Premature menopause happens to women in their 20s or 30s, while early menopause starts in their 40s. Typically menopause begins in your 50s or later. No matter what age this begins, you will go through three stages; perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.

Causes of premature and early menopause

Early and premature menopause are usually triggered by a hormonal imbalance that causes menopause to start and menstruation to stop.

The hormonal imbalance that causes early menopause and premature menopause is decreased oestrogen. This decrease in oestrogen could be caused by genetic factors. However, an unhealthy lifestyle can also trigger changes in your hormones that might cause you to start menopause early. Read:

Generally, you can find out if you are likely to go into menopause early by asking other women in your family. Your hormone levels are partially genetic, so if your mother, grandmother, or aunts went into menopause early, the chances are you will too.

However, your hormones are a delicate balance, and it is possible to upset that balance by leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Research shows that the most common factors that could cause a hormone imbalance leading to include:

  • Excess alcohol
  • Frequent intensive exercise
  • Smoking
  • Processed foods
  • Chronic stress
  • Surgery to the reproductive system
  • Chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune diseases

If you are concerned you have a hormonal imbalance causing early menopause, check out this article for more information:


The hormone that causes premature menopause is a crop in oestrogen levels. This imbalance could be a genetic problem, or it could be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or other medical complications.

Signs of premature and early menopause

Although most women go into menopause properly in their 50s, early and premature menopause is not unusual. No matter what age you start menopause, early and premature menopause signs and symptoms are the same as menopause in your 50s.

The most common signs you are going into early or premature menopause are:

  1. Hot flashes
  2. Mood swings
  3. Weight gain
  4. Hair loss
  5. Changes to your menstrual cycle

Read on to learn more about each of the most common symptoms of early menopause and premature menopause.

1.     Early menopause causes hot flashes

When you start menopause, your hormone levels change, and you have less oestrogen. Research into the effect of oestrogen on the body found that it helps control your body's internal temperature.

When you reach menopause, the hypothalamus in your brain can't regulate temperature effectively. You may experience hot flashes or hot flushes, which are perhaps one of the most common signs of menopause.

Hot flashes can be made worse when you drink alcohol. Alcohol also impacts your body's ability to regulate temperature and can lead to excessive sweating.

While hot flashes can happen at any time of the day or night, many menopausal women find they have more hot flashes at night. At night your body temperature is naturally lower to help you sleep well. So, a hot flash at night can feel more intense than during the day.  

Further studies found that hot flashes can be made worse by anxiety. If you feel worried or stressed as you go through menopause, your hot flashes may be more intense and more frequent. Check out this article to learn more about how anxiety impacts menopausal hot flashes:

2.     Premature menopause makes mood swings worse

During early menopause, your hormones fluctuate, and your progesterone and oestrogen levels decrease, causing mood swings. Read:

Premature menopause can be very intense emotionally and leave you feeling depressed and anxious.

During early and premature menopause, a drop in oestrogen changes how your body handles serotonin. The result is that not only will you have mood swings, but they will likely be negative because serotonin is the hormone that makes you happy.

The most common changes to your mood are:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Unexplained sadness
  • Low sex drive
  • Drop in self-confidence

Unlike hormonal mood swings during your regular menstrual cycle, your hormones decrease slowly over time during menopause.

Studies found this long-term decrease in hormones actually affects the chemicals in your brain. This means that while you will still have mood swings, they could last for longer and will be more like a change in your mindset than sudden swings of emotion.

3.     Is weight gain a sign of early menopause?

Another common sign of early menopause that comes on very slowly is weight gain. Read:

During early and premature menopause, your hormones changes causing  alterations to your metabolism. Over time, your body finds it harder to distribute and burn fat leading to loss of muscle tone and weight gain, especially around the belly and stomach.

A study looking at how hormones during menopause affect weight found that most menopausal women experience a change in body mass with less muscle and more fat.

If you enter menopause early, you will likely gain weight around your stomach as your body fails to burn fat. Weight gain is a common sign of early or premature menopause and can last during all three stages of menopause.

If you are in your 30s or 40s and notice your weight steadily increasing without changing your exercise routine, diet or lifestyle, it could be a sign you are entering menopause.  

To learn more about how your metabolism changes during menopause, leading to menopausal weight gain, check out:

4.     Early menopause hair loss

During premature menopause and early menopause, hormonal changes can cause hair loss and thinning hair. Both oestrogen and progesterone help build and grow hair and help your body hold onto hair.

As your hormone levels decrease and fluctuate, you may see menopausal hair loss. You may also notice your hair getting thinner or not growing as fast. Early menopause and premature menopause can also cause facial hair to grow.

Studies into menopausal hair loss found that as your progesterone and oestrogen decrease, the ratio of these hormones to androgens can cause your hair follicles to shrink. The result is that many women experiencing early and premature menopause have female pattern baldness.

As testosterone dominates over oestrogen during early menopause, many women also grow unwelcome facial hair and body hair.

One study found a significant link between menopause and a change in chest hair, chin hair, nose and ear hair.

5.     Does early menopause change your menstrual cycle?

When you enter menopause early, your menstrual cycle will change. As your hormones change during the first stage of menopause, you may not ovulate as regularly. Read:

Changes to your menstrual cycle that indicate you have started early menopause or premature menopause include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Changes in flow
  • Skipped periods
  • Spotting
  • Unusual period cramping

Your menstrual cycle is controlled by your hormones and the hormonal changes that happen during ovulation every month. As your progesterone and oestrogen levels fluctuate during menopause, your period and menstrual cycle will change. Most women going into early menopause notice their periods become less frequent and less heavy.

Studies found that most women experience longer cycles going up to 90 days between periods for around 2 two years before their final period. This transition phase can begin as early menopause and could last several years.

Diagnosing early menopause

If you experience several of the symptoms listed above, it could be a sign you are entering into early or premature menopause. If you suspect early menopause, speak to your doctor, who will be able to make a proper diagnosis.

Your doctor can run blood tests and fertility tests to accurately diagnose if you are in early menopause. Testing your hormone levels at different points in your cycle will show if your ovaries are slowing down.


Early and premature menopause can cause sudden weight gain, especially around the stomach. You will also notice intense changes to your mood, making you feel depressed, anxious and stressed. Going into menopause early can also affect your menstrual cycle, and you experience hot flashes as your hormones fluctuate.

Potential Health Risks of early menopause

Although early menopause and premature menopause aren't usually anything to worry about, the change in your hormones and your body does come with some health risks.

Going into menopause early doesn't mean you have an existing health condition, but it can cause health problems, so it is worth speaking to your doctor if you think you are going into menopause at a young age.

The most common health risks associated with early menopause are:

  • Low bone density
  • Weight gain and obesity-related health issues
  • Heart disease

Research shows that a decrease in oestrogen levels impacts how our bones grow. This doesn't present a significant problem for most women with healthy bone density pre-menopause. However, if you have problems with your bones, it could worsen during menopause.

Many menopausal women also experience weight gain and therefore suffer from the health problems associated with it. Usually, managing menopausal weight gain can effectively prevent these health issues.

The other significant risk of going into menopause early is heart disease and heart-related health problems. Studies found that going into menopause before the age of 40 was linked to a higher risk of heart disease in later life.

The health risks associated with early menopause vary depending on your existing health and what age you go into menopause. If you have concerns, speak to your doctor. If you go into menopause very early, your doctor may prescribe a birth control pill to regulate your oestrogen levels and manage your health until later in life.

You can also take steps to regulate your hormones at home to help manage menopause symptoms and minimise any potential health issues associated with early menopause. To find out more about managing your hormones during menopause, check out:


Early menopause doesn't necessarily mean you will experience health problems. However, some health issues are associated with a drop in oestrogen levels and menopausal weight gain. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned, and consider managing your hormones at home to minimise any potential health issues.

How to deal with premature and early menopause?

If you think you are going into early menopause, the most effective step you can take is to manage your symptoms. Early and premature menopause cause considerable changes to your body that can be hard to manage and make you uncomfortable.

Managing your early and premature menopause symptoms can make going through this process easier.  

These are the most common signs of perimenopause for early and premature menopause and some steps you can take to counteract them.

 Symptoms How to manage
Menopause Hot flash Stay hydrated to combat sweating, and try to wear cotton clothing. Use cool packs and take frequent cool showers
Headaches caused by menopause OTC pain killers and drink water to stay hydrated
Menopause-related decrease bone density Increase calcium intake naturally in your diet and consider supplements
Menopausal Hair loss Gentle shampoo, OTC hair loss treatment and natural supplements for hair growth
Menopausal weight gain Gentle regular exercise, reduce your overall calorie intake
Menopause mood swings Try journaling to record your emotions. If you notice a big difference in your mood, speak to a therapist who can help.

If you are concerned about menopausal weight gain, you can find out more information on how to lose menopause weight in this article:

Can I slow down menopause?

Unfortunately, you cannot stop menopause once it starts. Even if you go into menopause early, you cannot slow it down or delay it.

The best option available for women is to prevent early menopause before it happens by balancing your hormones and leading a healthy lifestyle.

For many women, it is hard to accept that you cannot top menopause. Early and premature menopause has a significant impact on fertility, which cannot be reversed. If you are struggling to come to terms with going into early menopause, here are some resources that could help:


You can't stop menopause once it starts, so the best thing you can do is manage your symptoms. Over-the-counter medication can help with headaches and menopausal hair loss. You should also adapt your lifestyle to consider menopausal weight gain and hot flashes. If you find it hard to deal with early menopause, speak to your doctor or seek professional help.


Most women go into menopause in their 50s, but it isn't unusual to start menopause in your 30s or 40s. Premature or early menopause can affect your fertility and lead to health problems in later life, so you should speak to your doctor.

If you notice sudden weight gain, particularly around your stomach, and feel more negative than usual, it could be a sign you are going into menopause early.

Keep an eye on your menstrual cycle because one of the first signs of early menopause is changes to your period. Missed periods, changes to your flow or irregular periods are all signs your hormones are changing during menopause.

If you want help managing your hormones, want to boost your fertility or need an official diagnosis, your doctor will be able to help. If you are concerned and want a natural remedy to balance your hormones as you enter menopause, check out this article: