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Can a woman start menopause in her 30s?

I'm only 38 and I've begun having irregular periods and hot flashes. Is it possible that I'm actually beginning menopause at 38? This is so much earlier than I thought it would happen that I have a hard time believing it. What other conditions could cause problems like this?
The average age that women undergo menopause is about 50. Anytime a women undergoes menopause before the age of 40 it is considered to be abnormal. The technical term for this is premature ovarian failure, or just premature menopause. Before jumping to any definitive conclusions, I will say that while your symptoms of irregular periods and hot flashes are concerning, it is not diagnostic for premature ovarian failure. There are other causes for irregular periods and hot flashes. For example, if you have a hyperactive thyroid gland, these symptoms could be from that. If this is premature ovarian failure, then it can be diagnosed with a simple hormonal blood test looking for the hormone follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The causes for this premature menopause range from autoimmune disease, diabetes, to a side effect of chemotherapy. In most cases, the cause is never found. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your OBGYN. He or she can take a detailed history of your symptoms and perform a comprehensive physical exam. In addition, you doctor can measure your FSH levels which will indicate whether or not you are going through premature ovarian failure. Your doctor will likely want to measure your thyroid gland function to make sure that is not playing a role. Good luck.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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