Early or premature menopause

Menopause that happens before age 40 is called premature menopause. Menopause that happens between 40 and 45 is called early menopause. About 5% of women naturally go through early menopause.1 Smoking and certain medicines or treatments can cause menopause to come earlier than usual.

What is the difference between early and premature menopause?

Early or premature menopause happens when ovaries stop making hormones and periods stop at a younger age than usual (the average age for menopause in the United States is 52). This can happen naturally or for a medical reason, such as when both ovaries are removed in a hysterectomy.

Early and premature menopause can have the same causes. The only difference is the age at which it happens. Menopause that happens before age 45 is called early menopause. Menopause that happens before age 40 is called premature menopause.

Women who have gone through early or premature menopause cannot get pregnant.

What causes early or premature menopause?

Early or premature menopause can happen on its own for no clear reason, or it can happen because of certain surgeries, medicines, or health conditions.

Reasons for early or premature menopause can include:

How do I know if I am going through early or premature menopause?

You know you have gone through menopause when you have not had your period for 12 months in a row. If you think you may be reaching menopause early, talk to your doctor or nurse.

What are the effects of early or premature menopause?

Women who go through menopause early may have symptoms or health problems similar to those of regular menopause.

But some women with early or premature menopause may also have:

Did we answer your question about early or premature menopause?

For more information about early or premature menopause, call the OWH Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 or check out the following resources from other organizations:


  1. Shifren, J.L., Gass, M.L.S., for the NAMS Recommendations for Clinical Care of Midlife Women Working Group. (2014). The North American Menopause Society Recommendations for Clinical Care of Midlife Women. Menopause; 21(10): 1038–1062.
  2. Women.Smokefree.gov. (n.d.). 11 Harmful Effects of Smoking on Women’s Health.
  3. Bellavia, A., Wolk, A., Orsini, N. (2016);23: Differences in age at death according to smoking and age at menopause. Menopause, 108–110.
  4. Imai, K., Sutton, M.Y., Mdodo, R., del Rio, C. (2013). HIV and menopause: A systematic review of the effects of HIV infection on age at menopause and the effects of menopause on response to antiretroviral therapy. Obstetrics and Gynecology International, 2013:340309 (Epub 2013 Dec 19).
  5. Looby, S.E., Shifren, J., Corless, I., Rope, A., Pedersen, M.C., Joffe, H., et al. (2014). Increased hot flash severity and related interference in perimenopausal human immunodeficiency virus-infected women. Menopause; 21: 403–409.
  6. Boneva, R.S., Lin, J.M., Unger, E.R. (2015). Early menopause and other gynecologic risk indicators for chronic fatigue syndrome in women. Menopause; 22:#826–834.  

This content is provided by the Office on Women's Health.

Syndicated Content Details:
Source URL: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause
Source Agency: Office on Women's Health (OWH)
Captured Date: 2018-05-23 15:01:00.0