When menopause occurs before age 40, it's considered premature menopause, according to WebMD. Natural menopause happens between the ages of 40 and 55, and is accompanied by a number of symptoms.
During menopause, the ovaries stop producing an egg each month, which causes menstruation to either stop or become unpredictable. Ovaries also produce estrogen and testosterone. When this production stops, menopause symptoms start, states WebMD. Symptoms can include hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings and vaginal dryness.
Premature menopause can happen for a number of medical reasons. Individuals going through cancer treatment at a young age can often be the victim of early menopause, because the ovaries can be damaged by the treatment, whether chemotherapy or radiation, explains WebMD. Early menopause can also be caused by a hysterectomy, which is the removal of the ovaries. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can also be triggers.
Early menopause and its symptoms are not always permanent, reports WebMD. Doctors recommend that young women experiencing early menopause should avoid a hysterectomy if at all possible. If the ovaries are removed before age 55, women are at higher risk for other complications, such as heart disease.
Those who experience permanent early menopause have some options to consider, including hormone treatments and vaginal estrogen tablets to help with libido. These treatments can significantly reduce the symptoms of premature menopause, according to WebMD.