Is It Stress or Early Menopause?

Life is hard enough when you’re a woman. You menstruate from a young age. You have cramps and all of the wonderful side effects of ovulation and hormonal shifts. You get pregnant and grow a baby, changing your body and your brain chemistry. You give birth and your body changes for good. You then spend a lot of time breastfeeding, feeling sleep deprived and then you have to keep having periods and feeling those cyclical hormones. Isn’t the female body fun?!

The hardest thing about all of that is that after you enjoy how all of that feels, you get to go through menopause. Between the ages of 50 and 60, women have their first foray into menopause, the time where the eggs in her ovaries have ended production and she no longer has to deal with the hormonal onslaught that periods bring. It’s finally over and she gets her body back, but menopause is not a switch that is clicked off overnight. In fact, many women need to use therapies and medication to gain relief from symptoms of menopause in the first place. The problem for some women is that it’s not always something that occurs later in life. Some women deal with early menopause long before they turn 50 and that can be discouraging and saddening for some. When your periods stop and no longer happen, you might find yourself going through early menopause. This can often mean speaking to your doctor and talking through whether you are going through early menopause. Doctors may give you estrogen body cream options to alleviate some of these menopause symptoms.

What is Early Menopause?

Between the ages of 35 and 45, women who notice their periods stopping may be going through early menopause. Women experience menopausal symptoms and then for a full year, have no period occurring at all. This can determine whether it’s actual menopause or not. It’s a scary time for some women as many women who go through early menopause find they go through a grieving period.

Grieving fertility, their womanhood – not that your ability to be a woman is tied to your periods – it feels like it’s disappearing. There is a lot of mental work that comes with perimenopause and it can be a real jolt to go through it. Some women actually blame stress for the stop on their periods and all of the symptoms, and understanding the signs of early menopause can help you to determine whether it’s stress or not!

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Signs & Symptoms

If you have noticed changes to your cycles, your hormones or how your body feels, you need to determine whether there is something more than stress in your life going on. This can often mean speaking to your doctor and talking through whether you are going through early menopause. Here are some of the common signs of early menopause:

  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue, lack of energy
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Poor memory/fuzzy thinking
  • Weight gain, especially around the middle
  • Low libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Irregular periods before menstruation stops completely
  • Palpitations
  • Urinary incontinence, frequency or urgency
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Skin changes (increased wrinkling or dryness)
  • Hair issues

You can see why these symptoms are confusing. So many of these symptoms occur with stress and so it’s easy to mix them up! You need your body to feel good but when you have shifts happening inside and outside, you are going to feel that! You need to know what’s going on in your body and there are other shifts that happen in your body you cannot feel physically. This can include things like bone loss, which is prevalent with early menopause. It’s a big concern, so if you are dealing with bone loss you need to know early because your doctor can check it for you.

Even if the symptoms are similar to stress, you need to determine for sure whether this is early menopause that requires targeted understanding and treatment or not. Dramatic changes in your hormones or menstruation aren’t just as a result of menopause, too. There are other things that you have to consider, such as premature ovarian failure or surgical menopause as a result of a hysterectomy. These are totally different things and they can affect your body’s ability to produce eggs and periods, too. Early menopause happens ten or so years before the average menopausal age and it’s worth noting the causes so that you can decide if there’s anything going on internally to affect you. 

Causes of Early Menopause

The very first signs of early menopause are triggered for women because of a dramatic fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone. The average age for a woman experiencing menopause is 52, and if you notice symptoms of menopause long before then, it’s time to consider whether early-onset is the cause. These are intense hormonal shifts and they can make the person experiencing them feel horrendous. You cannot control those shifting hormone levels alone, and getting help from your healthcare provider is a smart decision. 

As your body stops producing those essential hormones, you might deal with hot flashes and sudden fatigue. You might even feel the effects of vaginal dryness, which can have a knock-on effect on your sex life. So not only will your body be dealing with changes, you will have to deal with the potential effects on your sex life, which isn’t always easy to deal with! Your body is going to go through a lot and no one wants to go through that early if they don’t have to. Every woman goes through something different, of course, with its own ideal balance of hormones, but we all experience those shifts. 

Image source: Pexels

Factors That Count

There are certain things that will count for you where early menopause is concerned. Once you understand these factors, you are in a better position to be able to handle them going forward. You can then strive for that  healthy balance between your hormones and your future. So, what factors have to be considered?

  • Your family history. When did your mother or grandmother go through menopause? Ideally, you should have these conversations with them long before it becomes a thing! Understanding their average age can help you to narrow down when your body could go through it, too. If you have a parent or grandparent who has gone through early menopause, you’re actually 60% more likely to go through it yourself.
  • How do you eat? Did you know that poor nutrition can send you into early menopause? If your body is lacking the right vitamins and minerals for healthy fats to fuel your body, you’ll find that your hormonal health is worked against.
  • Your environment. Considering your environment is important because environmental toxins can disrupt your normal hormonal activity.
  • Are you a smoker? Smoking increases issues with your health across the board but it can send you into early menopause up to 30% of the time. This is a major influence on your hormones and you can alleviate this by giving up smoking. 

You cannot stop it once it starts but you can help yourself to get through the symptoms. You should feel good in your body and early menopause won’t make you feel great. Here are things that you can do to stay healthy and happy.

  • Eat well. You need a good balance of everything in your body to keep your hormones happy. The right foods are going to help your body create the right conditions to avoid early menopause, but you should be aware that food isn’t medicine and so, it’s not going to go anywhere! You can just make your body feel good as you handle it. 
  • Speak to your doctor. If you think you’re going through early menopause, then you need to speak to your doctor and get support. There are probably herbalists out there, but you need actual medicine to feel balanced and cared for! They can help you with what you need to smooth out the hormonal ups and downs.
  • Look at your lifestyle. It’s so much easier to achieve a balance with your hormones when you hydrate, sleep well, clean out those toxins and start finding exercise that you enjoy! Exercise will help as will balancing vitamins, fruits and veggies. It could be the catalyst you need toward better self-care and once you have that, you will find it easier to cope.
  • Get a therapist. The hormonal shuffles can help you to see that therapy can be a gamechanger for you. You can then move past some of the emotional challenges of menopause will disappear and you can start to properly support your body. You don’t have to go through all of this alone, which is why a therapist is a great idea.


We’re women, which means that we’re told we just have to cope with the changes. While it’s true to an extent, you don’t have to cope with it alone. It’s going to be a rough ride for many but you can keep riding it out! Once you figure that out, you’re going to get through it and come out of the other side with everything intact.


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