Lupus and Menopause
Q: I am wondering if I could be experiencing
premature menopause. I will be 31 years old this November. I have been experiencing
hot flashes, insomnia (which I never had before), heart palpitations, and headaches.
I have read that these are symptoms of menopause. I continue to menstruate;
although I also read that menopause could begin 2-5 years before menstruation
stops. In addition, I was diagnosed with SLE (lupus) a few years ago, and since
I read that people with immune disorders are more likely to experience premature
menopause, I thought it sounded like it made sense. Does this sound as if it
is a possibility? Or could the lupus also cause the same symptoms? The odd thing
is that because of the lupus I have been constantly tired for years, but only
recently have I had trouble sleeping at night. (I still have no problem with
naps.) I just thought that 31 years old seemed awfully early to begin menopause.
I appreciate any help you can give me.
Dr. Donnica: The simple answer is that yes, it is possible that
you could be having symptoms of perimenopause, which can begin up to 10 years
before the end of your periods. Sleep disturbances are classic. And
yes, this can happen to women your age. The diagnosis of lupus (SLE) can
confound things. Yes, SLE is associated with an earlier menopause, but it's
also associated with many of the symptoms of perimenopause (although not usually
The treatment you are on for your lupus may also be a factor in your new symptoms.
Women with autoimmune diseases are more likely to have other autoimmune problems;
if you haven't had your thyroid tested recently, that might be a good thing
to do. I recommend that you discuss this with your physician at your next
visit and ask all of these questions. The good news is that if you are
going into an "early" menopause, lupus is much less likely to flare
up after menopause. For more information on menopause, click here.
Donnica Moore MD
Created: 9/15/2002  - Donnica Moore, M.D.