When Menopause Is Premature

As the world commemorates Menopause Day, the phenomenon when a woman stops producing ovaries before the age 40 has been subject of attention.

Mami Mbong, aged 70, is far into menopause. She is one of those women who never knew what was happening to her body when she got into her menopausal phase. In a conversation with Mami this is what she said; “my pikin I bi di feel plenty heat for inside my side even when place bi di cold and I bi di sweat over”. Besides hot flashes and sweating,

Mami Mbong said she also experienced insomnia, depression, anxiety, memory problems, dry skin, less full breasts and painful joints amongst other things. From casual communication with friends, Mami Mbong realized she was into her menopause. This did not pose a problem to her and her entourage because she was already 50 years, a period ripe for menopause which is defined as that time a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

Health experts say menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline. However, statistics around the world indicate that one in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency. At this point, menopause is considered a problem. Information culled from the streets of Yaounde show that most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities. Health experts say the average age of onset for "natural" menopause is 51. However, because of genetics, illness, smoking or medical procedures, some women go through menopause before the age of 40. Whether natural or induced, this is known as "premature" menopause.

In addition to dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms that accompany menopause, many women under going premature menopause have to cope with additional physical and emotional concerns. For example, because menopause signals the end of a woman's fertile years, a woman who wishes to get pregnant is likely to have trouble. In early menopause, the ovaries don't produce normal amounts of the hormone oestrogen or release eggs regularly. Infertility is common. However, it's possible a woman with this condition could get pregnant with treatment, say health personnel.

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