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Irregular periods to ovarian failure: Kashmir’s silent battle with early menopause

February 19, 2024
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Srinagar: Hafira (real name changed), 39, longed to complete her family but was unable to fulfill her desire.  

“Hafira, who was 37 when she got married, had irregular periods. She came to see me after a 14-month break in her menstrual cycle,” said her doctor.

After running some tests, doctors diagnosed her with early menopause. “She was having the symptoms of menopause. Her age wasn’t that much so it was considered as early menopause. We have put her on harmonic therapy to improve her lifestyle,” said her doctor.

A woman enters menopause when she has missed her monthly cycle for 12 months in a row. The end of a woman’s reproductive years is indicated by menopause, a normal aspect of aging. Menopause often occurs in females after the age of 45, though it can occur as late as in her 50s.

Menopause that occurs between the ages of 40 and 45 is referred to as early menopause and menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is known as premature menopause.

In early menopause, the ovaries don’t produce normal amounts of the hormone estrogen or release eggs regularly. Infertility is common. Symptoms include irregular periods, hot flashes, irritability, and infertility.

Head, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, at Government Medical College, Lal DedHospitall Srinagar, Dr. Rizwana Habib told The Kashmir Monitor that early menopause in Kashmir was rarely seen five years ago, but now two to three cases are reported to OPD every month. “There hasn’t been a study on the cases as of yet, but two to three cases in every 100 OPD cases involve early menopause,” she said.

She added that 1% of women worldwide have premature menopause, compared to 5% of early menopause. “Early menopause can have a variety of causes, but among the many that affect women are illnesses such as tuberculosis, HIV, smoking, thyroid dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, malaria, and many more,” she said.

To avoid serious issues down the road, she urged women who are prone to early menopause to take good care of their lifestyle and seek treatment as soon as possible.

 “An early menopause cannot be reversed. It has an impact on life quality. Give up smoking, get regular exercise, treat infections as soon as they arise, and have your thyroid checked,” she said.

Dr. Tanzeela,  Associate Professor at Government Medical College Anantnag told The Kashmir Monitor that early menopause is not like an epidemic in Kashmir but they are detecting cases. “Some of the factors that lead to early menopause include Turner syndrome, a hereditary illness that affects women, premature ovarian failure (POF), and radiation treatments that damage the ovaries close to the pelvic area. The problems a woman encounters as she ages begin early when she experiences the early menopause,” she said.

According to a gynecologist, who wished to remain anonymous, ovarian failure for early menopause. “Hormonal therapy can be used to manage the adverse effects of early menopause, but it cannot restore the ovaries’ ability to function,” she said.

Dr. Rizwana said that early menarche is becoming more common in girls because of lifestyle. “A woman used to reach menarche at age 11. But now nine-year-olds attain menarche,” she said.

She advised women who menarche early to get married early to reduce the possibility of infertility. “A woman’s ovaries are reserved, and she loses them each month with the onset of ovulation. I advise women to get married in their early 20s to avoid serious issues,” she said.

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Avatar of Minzah Mehraj

Minzah Mehraj

Minzah Mehraj is a journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and has covered health, education, business, and culture stories over the past 3 years. She holds a Masters and Honours Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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