SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Premature menopause is menopause that occurs before the age of 40 years.
- Early menopause occurs between the age of 40 and 45.
- Women who experience early or premature menopause may need hormone therapy to reduce the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
What is menopause?
Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 years.
The average age for Australian women to reach menopause is 51 to 52 years.
What is premature menopause?
Premature menopause is when you reach menopause before the age of 40 years.
What is early menopause?
Early menopause occurs between the ages of 40 and 45 years.
Up to 12% of women have their final period before they are 45 years of age. This percentage is likely to be higher if we include menopause caused by surgery and cancer treatment.
Symptoms of premature and early menopause
Symptoms of premature and early menopause are like those you would experience if you reached menopause at the expected age. Menopausal symptoms can be more severe after surgery or cancer treatment, due to the sudden change in oestrogen levels.
Common symptoms include:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- brain fog
- sore breasts
- dry vagina
- itchy skin
- aches and pains
- , due to a slower
Causes of premature and early menopause
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
POI is when periods stop suddenly at an earlier age than expected. POI affects up to 1% of women but in 60% of cases a cause cannot be found.
The first symptoms of POI may be:
Risk factors that may lead to POI include:
- periods starting before 11 years of age
- family history of premature or early menopause
- previous surgery on your ovaries.
Other risk factors:
If you are under 45 years of age and have irregular periods, or they have stopped for more than 3 months, you should see your doctor.
Your doctor may:
- ask questions about your medical and family history
- do a physical examination
- do other tests, such as a , hormone tests and an .
After a diagnosis of premature or early menopause
If you are diagnosed with a genetic condition that caused your premature or early menopause, it might be helpful to speak to a . Genetic counsellors are health professionals qualified in counselling and genetics. They can help you understand the condition, what causes it, how it is inherited (if it is) and how it may impact your health.
Managing premature and early menopause
Where to get help
- Panay N, Anderson RA, Nappi RE, et al. 2020, , Climacteric, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 426–446.
- , European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
- , Jean Hailes for Women's Health.
- Torrealday S, Pal L 2015, , Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 543–57.
- , Australasian Menopause Society.
- , 2015, Australasian Menopause Society.
- The NAMS 2017 Hormone Therapy Position Statement Advisory Panel 2017, , Menopause, vol. 24, no. 7, pp. 728–53.
- Stuenkel CA, Davis SR, Gompel A et al. 2015, , Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 100, no. 11, pp. 3975–4011.
- Baber RJ, Panay N, Fenton A 2016, , Climacteric, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 109–50.