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Menopause at 43

Q: I went through menopause when I was only 43, but my doctor says it was a fluke and that I'm perfectly healthy. The problem is, it's been three years now and I've been exhausted ever since. I rarely get a good night's sleep; my muscles jerk a lot, and sometimes I snore so loudly I wake myself up! Are these really side effects of early menopause, and what can I do to get my energy back?

Dr. Donnica: Menopause at 43 is not a "fluke." It's also not technically "early." While the average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51, that means some women go earlier and others go later.

Early menopause is defined as menopause for any reason before age 40. Sleep disturbances are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. While fatigue itself is not a direct symptom of menopause, it is directly related to your problems sleeping. Snoring has nothing to do with menopause, but may indicate a problem called "sleep apnea," which is potentially serious and requires medical treatment.

I recommend that you discuss these symptoms specifically with your physician. If you are having other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats, your doctor might recommend estrogen therapy. If sleep is the only problem, your doctor might recommend something called a "sleep study" where you actually sleep overnight in a sleep lab and your sleep is monitored to determine whether you have sleep apnea. If not, s/he may recommend a short course of sleeping pills to help you get back to your normal self.

Created: 12/4/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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