Early Menopause for Teresa

Teresa's cancer battle was tough enough. Now menopause...

Theresa is experiencing early menopause

Artificial menopause can result from chemotherapy

Teresa is only 38. At the age of 37 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Within months she was having menopause signs – not uncommon when chemotherapy is toxic to the ovaries causing destruction of eggs.

Early menopause a cruel blow

Just when Teresa had felt that she was emerging from the endless rounds of doctors, surgeons, hospitals and feeling rock bottom, early menopause felt like the cruelest blow.

No gentle slide in to menopause for her. Doesn’t she have enough to cope with already without her body spiraling out of control again?

She wonders if her life will ever truly be normal again.

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.