Just been told you have early menopause? What next?
One of the commonest questions we get asked is from women who have just been told by their GP that they have premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause – what tests and information do you need?
1. The diagnosis of POI is made in women < 40 years, having irregular or no periods, with blood tests showing elevated FSH levels (over 25-30IU/L). This test must be repeated after 6 weeks to confirm the diagnosis. If you still have periods it should be done on day 2-4 of the menstrual cycle.
2. Other investigations may be done depending on your history – pelvic ultrasound scan, thyroid function tests, bone density scan.
3. Investigations may be done to look for an underlying cause: genetic testing & autoimmune screen (in 95% of women no underlying cause is found).
4.Women with POI should be advised to use hormone replacement – either as HRT or the combined oral contraceptive pill – unless there are medical reasons not to take estrogen.
5. Hormone replacement should be continued at least until the average age of menopause (age 52)
6. Hormone replacement will help with symptoms and protect the bones, heart and brain. There are many different types – it’s about finding the right one for you or you may prefer to use the pill.
7. Lifestyle and diet: regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake and a balanced diet are important for your heart and bones
8. Getting a diagnosis of POI can be very tough emotionally: consider seeing a specialist counsellor or joining a support group
9. The 2015 NICE Guidelines on Menopause recommend that women with POI are referred to see a Specialist in menopause
10. If you wish to have children you should be referred to a fertility specialist to discuss the options.
For more information see www.daisynetwork.org.uk/about-poi/what-is-poi/
Members can join us for our regular webchats where you can ask advice from our resident experts: www.daisynetwork.org.uk/live-chat/