I'm too young for missed periods and hot flashes - Am I starting menopause?

>> Thursday, March 17, 2011

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Dear KnowYourV,

Thank you for taking time to answer my question. I am 31 years old and I’m not on any type of birth control right now and I am interested starting a family soon. I normally have regular periods every month but recently I've noticed that I’m having what I think are hot flashes right before my periods start. I missed my January period but then it came back again normal in February. What does this mean? Am I starting menopause? Ive read all about menopause on the Internet and I’m worried because I still want to be able to get pregnant. What do you think?

Well, it sounds very familiar and normal to me, and I will explain why. During our normal monthly menstrual cycle our hormones are constantly changing. The main hormones (estrogen & progesterone) are lowest at the time the menstrual cycle begins, and they both rise slowly until around the time of ovulation (which is close to day 14 - 16 for child bearing age women). At this time a surge takes place of a special hormone called LH (luteinizing hormone) which causes ovulation to happen.

If LH does not surge, your ovaries will not ovulate (pop out an egg), but once this takes place your period will start exactly 14 days later. This is true not just for you but for all child bearing age women of all races in any country worldwide. Exactly 14 days after you ovulate, your period will start again and the whole cycle starts over. The day your cycle begins is the 1st day you start to see blood; that is day #1 of your cycle.

If you haven’t already, you need to keep track of how long your cycles are, especially if you want to get pregnant. That means how many days from the day you start your period until you start your next period., as this will help you to know when you are ovulating and see the regularity or irregularity of your own cycles.

Once you ovulate, the estrogen and progesterone begin to decline. Then about 2-3 days before your period, they both abruptly shut off. This sudden drop is the signal to your body that you are not pregnant and to let go of the uterine lining and to start your period

With that understanding let’s get to your question, okay? It isn't unusual for women to have changes in their menstrual cycles throughout their lives. So what was normal as a teenager may not be normal in our late 20s & 30s and can change again in the late 30s and 40s just before menopause is expected to happen. You said you are 31, so it would be extremely rare for someone your age to experience menopause. Menopause is easily diagnosed by doing a simple blood test called the FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) and you can ask your Gynecologist for this test if you just want to confirm it.

So why the hot flushes and missed period? Remember how we talked about your hormones abruptly dropping off a few days before your period? Women can become very sensitive to that and it can become more pronounced in the late 20s and 30s. The lack of hormone at this time “feels“ similar to menopause symptoms such as a warm feeling, night sweats, or hot flushes. If it gets too uncomfortable, some women take low dose estrogen, or the medication for PMS when these feelings occur. Taking extra calcium, B vitamins and exercising can also help a lot for those who prefer not to take hormones or other medications.

Missing periods happen from time to time and I understand why it upsets you. But, many things other than menopause and pregnancy can interfere with regular periods. Stress, allergy medications, antibiotics, changes in diet and exercise, etc. can all cause irregularity
So, if you missed one period, I would not worry about it. If it becomes a common occurrence, then check with your doctor.
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