The third article in our series of articles exploring premature menopause.
“But you’re too young to be menopausal!”
…is a reaction you’d perhaps expect to hear from your misinformed gal pals, a male colleague, or a well-meaning family member. A statement like that is understandable coming from someone who perhaps doesn’t have much knowledge about the biology of the female body. The one person you’d never expect to hear this from is a doctor, and yet, so many premature menopausal women often mention that their doctors have refused to treat them for the menopause, because they don’t believe they can be menopausal. This is shocking, given that if anyone should know that you’re not “too young” to be menopausal, it should be your doctor, someone who has spent years studying medicine…especially since they’re the ones who can treat you!
As we outlined in the previous article in this series, there’s definitely an issue surrounding lack of exposure around premature menopause, both within the medical community and within society. Yes, to solve this problem we need to break the silence and the taboo around the menopause (and premature menopause), but what are you to do if you’re dealing with this issue right now? It’s great to be part of a community of women championing the issue and breaking the silence so that future generations don’t have to feel this way, but what about you, now?
If you have a feeling that what you’re experiencing is the menopause, then follow that feeling until you can 100% rule it out.
First, a moment of empathy. Getting written off by your doctor and being told that what you expect to be true (and what is true) is just in your head and is not actually happening is very difficult. It can be incredibly frustrating to try and convince a doctor to follow up with tests when they’re just trying to get you out the door as fast as they can with antidepressants or other irrelevant medication. It can be terribly disheartening to come into an office well-researched and well-prepared, only to be dismissed by someone who should know better. Simply put, it’s hard. But don’t let that overwhelm you or stop you from fighting and getting the treatment you deserve. If you have a feeling that what you’re experiencing is the menopause, then follow that feeling until you can 100% rule it out.
The fact is, the menopause can occur at virtually any age after menstruation begins. After that, there is no such thing as being “too young” for the menopause. As we outlined in our overview, 1% of women are premature menopausal (which is defined as experiencing the menopause below the age of 40). The might not sound like a lot, but it’s 1 in 100, which definitely adds up. You are not alone, so please don’t let any initial dismissal from doctors stop you from getting the right treatment.
…the earlier you start the menopause, the higher risk you are of having to endure these symptoms and consequences for a longer time.
Why is it so important, you may ask? Because the menopause puts you at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, depression, and chronic stress (among other negative symptoms), and the earlier you start the menopause, the higher risk you are of having to endure these symptoms and consequences for a longer time. Your life is valuable, and if you have to live a longer time with insufferable (and dangerous) symptoms, it’s incredibly important to treat them in time and manage them through the years with the right medical attention.
Ultimately, there are tests for estrogen levels and egg count. Do not let the dismissal from doctors keep you at home, suffering. If you’re missing your periods, and feeling other menopausal symptoms, then this is a big sign. Ninety percent (90%) of premature menopausal cases happen with no clear or understood cause, so unfortunately it seems like it could really affect anyone. If your doctor won’t administer any test at all, try a second (or third, or fourth) doctor to get a different opinion. If you have the option and access to one, consider going to a menopause clinic, who will most certainly have the right information (but understandably, this isn’t an option for everyone, given that it can be costly, far from where you live, or your GP might not give you a referral).
If your doctor won’t administer any test at all, try a second (or third, or fourth) doctor to get a different opinion.
Finally, for now, stay on top of your symptoms. There are plenty of alternative treatments to alleviate the pain of menopausal symptoms. If you can’t get a hold of HRT just yet, focus on these treatments (for help, see our treatments section or our article Alternatives to HRT). Eventually (and hopefully) with enough determination and the right doctor, you can get the right diagnosis and treatment you need. For now, hang in there, and know that you are absolutely not alone!
For more information and support, contact our friends at the The Daisy Network.