February 21, 2010
By Bae Ji-sook
More women appear to be experiencing early menopause, a recent study has indicated.
A total of 6,831 women in their 30s and below were treated in 2008 for insomnia, depression, lethargy and other disorders stemming from their cessation of menstruating, the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) said Sunday.
“Taking into account that only those who suffer from these side effects were counted in the survey, the actual number of women with early menopause could be much higher,” it said.
Premature menopause, which is the permanent cessation of menstruation among women under 45 years old, is caused by a hormonal imbalance that can stem from stress, excessive weight loss attempts, dietary changes and genetic factors.
“These days I see the age moving down to college students in some cases. Most of them underestimate the severity of missing their menstruation period for several months. Then they belatedly receive a health checkup only to find they’ve stopped ovulating,” Dr. Yoon Byung-ku of Samsung Medical Center was quoted as saying to the online paper Medical Today.
Premature menopause leads to health risks as osteoporosis, hardening of artilleries and other symptoms become prevalent. Moreover, according to Dutch researcher Tonnie Coppus, the “patients” are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease than those who have timely menopause.
“These days, younger women are turning toward alternative regimens such as oriental and herbal medicines, exercise and diet changes rather than taking ovulation-stimulating hormonal treatment,” Dr. Chung Jae-eun of Ilsan Hospital said. “But I still recommend people who haven’t menstruated for more than three months to visit their doctors because individual patients need different measures.”
Meanwhile, the report showed that a total of 662,000 females suffered from menopausal disorders in 2005. The number went up to 704,000 in 2008. The insurance fee to cover their medical costs marked 55.2 billion won.
The most noticeable population was those over 60 – their numbers jumped to 170,000, compared to 130,000 in 2001.
Chung assumed that pollution and other factors contributed to the increase. “Moreover, the awareness about such disorders has gone up over the past several years, causing more elderly people to aggressively seek treatments,” Chung said.
Other factors need to be taken into consideration – especially for western industrialized nations – plastics; BPA, hormones from meat – birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy.