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Premature menopause reaches alarming proportion in Kashmir

Srinagar, Jan 11: Aliya (name changed), 30, hailing from Srinagar city was married in January last year. Three months back, she stopped getting her periods. Excited that she may have conceived, Aliya underwent tests, which revealed that she had already slipped into premature menopause.

“I used to have irregular periods but I never thought I would get menopause at 30. It was a big blow as my parents had planned my marriage so painstakingly and within a year all this happened,” she said.


Similarly, Rehana, 34, a homemaker, who had no idea she has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) until she and her husband decided to have a child and she had difficulty in conceiving.

After eight months of fertility medication, she conceived. Six months after the birth, her menstrual cycles turned erratic, falling into a rhythm only with medication.

Later her tests revealed a bulky uterus and dysfunctional ovaries. She was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, a sign of premature menopause.

A worrying trend is setting in the valley with the rising incidence of young women facing pre-ovarian failure and pre mature menopause, both leading to infertility. A condition which was predominantly seen among older couples, infertility is now seen more frequently in women who are younger than 35 years of age.

Dr Rahila Yousuf, Consultant Gynecologist at JLNM Hospital, Rainawari described premature ovarian failure — also known as primary ovarian insufficiency —a loss of normal function of the ovaries before age 40.

“If the ovaries fail, they don’t produce normal amounts of the hormone estrogen or release eggs regularly. Infertility is a common result. Women with premature ovarian failure may have irregular or occasional periods for years and may even become pregnant. Women with premature menopause stop having periods and can’t become pregnant,” she said.

The doctor said that on an average 6-7 females with such medical conditions visit her for treatment every month. The gynecologist said that chronic and prolonged stress may lead to early menopause or premature ovarian failure.

“The major causes include chemotherapy, removal of both ovaries, chromosomal defects, a genetic history of early menopause, autoimmune diseases like thyroid imbalances and overenthusiastic doctors who keep surgically removing cysts from ovaries,” she said.

Those having irregular periods or with longer or shorter menstrual days, those suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or other hormonal condition such as thyroid etc, are all high risk cases, as per the doctor.

Another gynecologist, Dr Auqafeen Nisar said there is a treatment but it is highly expensive

“Treatment includes inducing artificial bleeding using hormones. But again, it can prove to be highly expensive. Those from low-income groups cannot afford it,” said Dr Auqafeen, who has been spearheading a campaign called ‘Panin Fikir’ to break the menstrual taboo in the valley. 

She said that prevention and early detection are the way forward.  “The daily intake of calcium and multi-vitamins, exercise and a healthy balanced diet is required to cut down the risk of hitting menopause early,” she added.

Earlier a survey depicted that the hospital prevalence of primary infertility is 20 per cent in Kashmir. The survey attributed it primarily to stress, and prevailing conditions in the valley.