My Doctor Says I’m Too Young for Perimenopause
As a women’s health advocate, writer, and blogger, I am often asked by women in their 40s if they are too young to be entering perimenopause. I am always perplexed by this question since it is no secret that a large number of women are completely menopausal by the time they reach their mid to late 40s. My mother was menopausal before she reached the age of 45, and my own entree’ into perimenopause began when I was 41.
Yet, women in their 40s who are exhibiting classic perimenopause symptoms: hot flashes, night sweats, erratic menstrual cycles, and mood swings, are routinely told by their physicians they are too young to be entering perimenopause. Huh?
According to the National Institute of Health, the average age of menopause (12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle) is 51. Given that 51 is the average, then mathematically speaking, that means some women are going to be older than 51 when they reach menopause, and some women are going to be younger – else 51 wouldn’t be the average.
When you also take into consideration that perimenopause lasts anywhere from 5 to 12 years, then deductive reasoning should tell you based on the average of 51, that some women will enter perimenopause in their early 40s. Therefore, women in their early 40s are not too young to be entering into perimenopause. It is also not unheard of for women to enter perimenopause in their late 30s.
In fact, by the time a woman reaches her mid to late 30s, she is already beginning to experience a shift in her sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Fertility rates begin to plummet for women after the age of 35. By the time she is 40, chances of conception drop to approximately 5%, with the risk for miscarriage rising approximately 33%.
Given all of this well documented information, I am incredulous that women are being told they are too young to be in perimenopause in their early 40s. I can only surmise that the medical professionals who are telling women this are general practitioners who do not have a lot of experience with women’s hormone and fertility health issues.
If you are a woman in your early 40s and suspect you may be entering perimenopause, you should seek the care of an experienced gynecologist or endocrinologist who can run the appropriate tests to determine if you are in perimenopause.
It should be said that it is entirely possible your symptoms are not the result of perimenopause, since many health conditions can cause similar and identical symptoms. However, there is no way you can know that without the proper tests administered by an experienced healthcare professional.
And remember, if you are not satisfied with a diagnosis that says you are not in perimenopause, and you feel you are, then by all means; do not hesitate to seek the opinion of a second or third healthcare provider!
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.