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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 hot flashes!). 

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.

Good luck!
Best regards,
Donnica Moore MD
President, DrDonnica.com

Created: 9/15/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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