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Premature or early menopause and your fertility

We’re sharing specialist advice and fertility support for people going through early menopause. Learn about this common cause of fertility problems and what it means for having children, now or in the future.

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We’re taught to expect menopause in our late 40s or 50s, but for some people, it comes much sooner. It’s called early or premature menopause and can happen any time after puberty up until age 45.


If you’re going through this, you’re not alone. New research suggests early menopause could affect up to 1 in 8 women.


There are treatments to help you cope with symptoms and fertility options to explore.


On this page, you can find out:

Help us spread the word and raise awareness of early menopause – share this page with someone you know.

What is early menopause?

Early menopause is when your periods stop before age 45.


If it happens before age 40, it's sometimes called premature menopause.




How does early menopause affect fertility?

Once your periods become irregular, it gets harder to fall pregnant.


This stage is peri-menopause and can last months or years.


Once your periods stop completely, it's not possible to get pregnant naturally.


This doesn't mean giving up on becoming a parent, now or in the future.


Fertility treatments like IVF with donor eggs mean it's still possible to have a baby even after early menopause.


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When to see a fertility specialist


If you have menopause symptoms before age 45 or you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success, it could be a sign of early menopause.


A fertility assessment gives you an overall picture of your current fertility, including whether early menopause could be a factor.


Once you know your fertility health, we can support you in exploring the next steps, including whether specialist treatments like IVF could help.

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Check your fertility

If you're unsure about your fertility or have symptoms like missed periods, a fertility assessment is a great first step in getting personalised support.

Am I going through early menopause?


In early menopause, the main symptom is that your periods stop completely.


Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and blood tests to measure hormones.

 

Other early menopause symptoms:

  • Suddenly feeling too warm (hot flushes)

  • Night sweats

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Low mood or anxiety

  • Less interest in sex

  • Trouble concentrating


If you're having menopause symptoms before age 45, see your GP or a specialist.

Getting started contact us

Primary ovarian insufficiency

If you're experiencing menopause symptoms before age 40, like missed or irregular periods, it could be primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), where the ovaries produce less oestrogen and can stop releasing eggs.

What causes early menopause?


Early menopause happens when the ovaries stop working as they should.


They produce less oestrogen and can stop releasing eggs.


This can be caused by primary ovarian insufficiency, which used to be called premature ovarian failure.


The ovaries can stop working properly due to:


  • Chromosome conditions

  • An autoimmune condition

  • Cancer or radiotherapy

  • Surgery to remove the ovaries

Treatment for early menopause

Early menopause cannot be reversed, but there are treatments to help you cope with symptoms. 


During early menopause, your hormone levels change. This includes oestrogen, which is important for keeping your organs healthy. 


Losing these hormones earlier in life can cause complications, like fragile bones (osteoporosis) or heart disease.


Taking hormones (hormonal therapy or HRT) keeps your natural oestrogen levels topped up to protect against long-term health conditions.


We partner with Hormone Health to offer specialist hormone services for early menopause. 

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Fertility treatments for early menopause


At TFP Fertility UK, we tailor any treatment to you. The best route will depend on your circumstances, including your current fertility, health, and preferences.


Below are some of the options you could explore.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy (HRT) keeps your oestrogen levels topped up to protect against the risk of fragile bones and heart disease.


HRT isn't a fertility treatment, but it can help with symptoms of early menopause.


At TFP Fertility UK, we partner with hormone health to offer specialist HRT treatment for early menopause.

IVF

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a fertility treatment for pregnancy.


Egg release (ovulation) is stimulated with medicine, before removing your eggs and fertilising them in the lab.


Whether you can have IVF using your own eggs depends on your ovarian reserve, and the quality of your eggs.


For people with early menopause, the best chance of success is to have IVF with a donor egg.


Learn more about IVF.

Donor eggs

If you've been through early menopause and no longer make your own eggs, it's still possible to carry and deliver a healthy baby using a donor egg.


Egg donation is when someone else gives their eggs for your treatment, which can be from a donor bank or somebody you know. The eggs are fertilised with your partner's sperm or donor sperm.


The embryo is then placed in your womb, and you carry the pregnancy, meaning you have a biological connection to the baby.


Learn more about egg donor IVF.

Real stories from our patients


- Elizabeth, who always thought she would never have a baby, but an egg donor helped her conceive a beautiful baby girl -

"I would say to anyone considering IVF using donated eggs to do their research. I can’t believe we almost went through life not knowing that we could receive treatment."

- Henriett and Balazs, who started their family with the help of IVF with donated eggs -

"Our GP recommended TFP Oxford Fertility as being the best. It doesn’t feel like you are in a hospital, it has a calm feeling. Our nurse was so professional and kind."

- Amber, whose periods stopped at the age of 14, is now proud parent to son Leo -

"I feel like Sue was the first doctor to really understand. TFP Wessex Fertility literally fixed our fertility and all of the mistakes that had previously been made by other consultants."

FAQs

How common is early menopause?

Early menopause is more common than we used to think.


You might read that it affects 5% of women (1 in 20), but recent research suggests than up to 1 in 8 women have early menopause.

What are the risk factors for early menopause?

The risk of early menopause increases with:


  • Smoking

  • Being underweight

  • Having your first period before age 11

  • Family history of early menopause


What causes early menopause?

Early menopause can happen naturally or be caused by medical treatments:


  • Chromosomal conditions

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Family history of genetic conditions

  • Radiotherapy and chemotherapy

  • Having your ovaries removed

  • In rare cases, infections


Sometimes, there is no obvious cause behind early menopause or POI.

Can PCOS cause early menopause?

PCOS is not thought to cause early menopause. In fact, people with PCOS often reach menopause a couple of years later.

Is early menopause genetic?

Early menopause can run in families, which suggests that genes are involved. It’s also linked to certain genetic conditions affecting the chromosomes.

Can IVF cause early menopause?

IVF does not cause early menopause and does not cause you to run out of eggs. During IVF, you take medicine to stop your menstrual cycle for a short time. This is not the same as menopause and your periods return afterwards.

What are the success rates of IVF in early menopause?

Success rates depend on several factors including:


  • The age of the person whose eggs are used

  • Your womb health, for example, if it was damaged during cancer treatment

  • The clinic and procedure used


However, success rates for IVF using an egg donor in early menopause are considered to be high, with some studies reporting up to 1 in 2 people achieving live birth per embryo transfer.


You can see the success rates for IVF on our individual clinic pages.


Find TFP Fertility clinics.

Can you prevent or reverse early menopause?

It isn’t possible to prevent or reverse early menopause, but some treatments help with symptoms, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).


In primary ovarian sufficiency, HRT can restore regular periods.


Is it safe to have a baby with early menopause?

People with POI or early menopause are not thought to have higher risk pregnancies than premenopausal women.


However, some people will need IVF, which carries higher risks than natural pregnancy.


These risks are relatively small. For example, 4 in 100 women have high blood pressure during natural pregnancy compared to 5 in 100 women during IVF pregnancy.


At TFP Fertility, our expert consultants will talk you through your treatment, including explaining the side effects and any risks you should consider.

Is there anything I can do to increase my fertility?

Recent studies show that exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, and only drinking moderately - particularly in your early thirties - are linked with a lower risk of early menopause.


Beyond this, you can support your fertility through healthy lifestyle choices, including:


  • Having a healthy BMI

  • Eating healthy

  • Reducing caffeine intake


These steps may not prevent early menopause, but they can support any fertility treatment and help with symptoms.


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