late onset of menopause

Posted by cwms @cwms, Tue, Oct 15 10:22am

I'm 59 and still getting my period! Anyone else have this? I've been to several doctors and they all have different opinions. Since my mother had ovarian cancer I'm very worried I may get it too. Some doctors suggest I have my ovaries removed, while others suggest low dose birth control pills. I don't really have any menopause symptoms, maybe a rare night sweat. My FSH fluctuates back and forth between 20 and 68 and my Estradiol between 8 and 66. Any help or insight is really appreciated.

@cwms
I never had my FSH or Estradiol checked but I did not finish menopause until about 57. It was unusual as both my mother and her mother went through it quite young (late 30's and early 40's). Neither had cancer or other related issues that I know of. I did not have children and of course they did so that is one difference. I did not have regular periods the last two years and even when they were regular they started to change.

I had my periods get a lot lighter and further apart but in a regular way (something like every 36 days as opposed to my usual 26 days that I had experienced most of my life. I also began having terrible PMS which I had not experienced much in my younger days. Have your periods changed at all? I ask because they usually get closer together or farther apart, maybe lighter or heavier, but there usually is a change. I literally had night sweats for more than 10 years and also started to get migraines during what I look back upon as peri-menopause. I had gone to a neurologist about them and she told me she thought they were early menopausal symptoms and sure enough, after I completely stopped my periods, the migraines completely went away. Any such symptoms in your case? How is your health otherwise?

It is likely that others on this forum may have some resources they can suggest for you (research, doctors, etc.). Unfortunately I can only tell you that I did go through menopause extremely late as well but there were signs of it as I mention above. Let's see if any of the moderators know of any Mayo resources they can point you to.

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@colleenyoung @lisalucier,
@cwms has posed a question that I have not seen before on this forum regarding late menopause. Do you know of any resources that might be able to assist her? I will look for a few things but thought you might be able to point her in the right direction since it looks like her doctors have quite differing opinions on the subject.

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Thank you. Any help would be SOOOO appreciated. I am at a complete loss! One thing I know, I am certainly an anomaly… or just abnormal! I have logged my period since 2016, maybe even before. It has been heavy my entire life, but more so in the last few years. One Tampon and 1 pad every hour on day 2 and 3. After that it tapers down lasting a total of 6 days max. It's always been every 28 ( +/_ 2 days). I may miss a month and maybe even 2 or 3 months, but when you add the total days since my last period and divide by 28 it's always 28 (+/_2) per month. No symptoms of menopause at al! Am I lucky? or crazy?
I mean what 59 year old has never had a hot flash! Someone has to know something about this…….I hope

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@cwms
I actually came across something this afternoon when looking for something else on laparoscopic surgery. It is a blog that a gynecological surgeon from Australia posts regarding various issues in his field. His name is Andreas Obermair and he posted a blog where he pointed out some of the benefits of late onset menopause. His point was that even though there is a slight increase in the risk of ovarian and breast cancer due to estrogen production for a longer period of time, there is a decrease in risk of stroke and heart disease. He summarized some research showing that women who have longer reproductive lives are more likely to live well into their 90's. So it is not all bad news for sure.
Here is a link to the article/blog https://www.obermair.info/latest-news/blog/late-onset-menopause/

I do recall that there are some medical issues that can cause later menopause including thyroid issues and being overweight. Have you had a complete physical recently including checking your thyroid?

I feel sure that there will be some folks on here who will see your post and have more to offer than I do. The Moderators are more familiar with a lot of the Mayo resources than I am as I have only been Mentoring for a little less than a year. After your post is up for a while I would think you will get some additional perspectives from others.

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Hi, @cwms – I wanted to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sounds like you've been very diligent with tracking your own menstrual data for a number of years, as well as observant about your own body.

I actually just mentioned to my doctor about a week ago that I think I'm beginning to have what I think may be hot flashes at times, wondering if this may mean anything. I'm not sure they are hot flashes and would have a harder time recognizing if I ever were moving toward menopause, as I had prolapse surgery that included a hysterectomy almost 8 years ago.

Mayo Clinic would say that 51 is an average for start of menopause in this general article on the topic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397. I am not a medical professional, but I think the word average is important here, meaning some women will experience menopause before or after that age.

I appreciate the experiences and resources that @baxtersmom has shared here, particularly some pros of later onset menopause pointed out in the article she is referencing.

Another Mayo Clinic article talking about misconceptions about menopause may also be useful https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/womens-wellness-menopause-misconceptions/. You'll note I did not find any Mayo Clinic articles focusing on late menopause in particular.

This is not a Mayo Clinic resource, but it references Mayo Clinic's numbers https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-age. These two sentences got my attention related to your query, cwms:

"The average age for menopause in the United States is 51, according to the Mayo Clinic. But menopause can happen to women throughout their 40s and 50s, too."

I'd also like to invite into this conversation @merpreb @fotula @lioness @sierrawoods @jigglejaws94 @kathyhg, all of whom have mentioned menopause in other Connect discussions, for their input on your being 59 without any distinct menopause symptoms.

What types of specialists have you seen thus far for a consult, cwms?

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@baxtersmom

@cwms
I actually came across something this afternoon when looking for something else on laparoscopic surgery. It is a blog that a gynecological surgeon from Australia posts regarding various issues in his field. His name is Andreas Obermair and he posted a blog where he pointed out some of the benefits of late onset menopause. His point was that even though there is a slight increase in the risk of ovarian and breast cancer due to estrogen production for a longer period of time, there is a decrease in risk of stroke and heart disease. He summarized some research showing that women who have longer reproductive lives are more likely to live well into their 90's. So it is not all bad news for sure.
Here is a link to the article/blog https://www.obermair.info/latest-news/blog/late-onset-menopause/

I do recall that there are some medical issues that can cause later menopause including thyroid issues and being overweight. Have you had a complete physical recently including checking your thyroid?

I feel sure that there will be some folks on here who will see your post and have more to offer than I do. The Moderators are more familiar with a lot of the Mayo resources than I am as I have only been Mentoring for a little less than a year. After your post is up for a while I would think you will get some additional perspectives from others.

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Thank you Gail- I found the article frightening and reassuring all at the same time. I do get a complete physical every year and other than high LDL (bad) cholesterol the but high (100+) HDL (good)cholesterol and very low triglycerides, the doctors don't seem too worried. I Exercise a lot but always had a belly (wine?) so I am a little overweight. My BMI is 29 but I do have a lot of muscle. The thyroid thing is interesting though. I had my thyroid removed in 1991 and have been on Synthroid ever since. Levels are checked yearly. I wonder if there is any connection.

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@lisalucier

Hi, @cwms – I wanted to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sounds like you've been very diligent with tracking your own menstrual data for a number of years, as well as observant about your own body.

I actually just mentioned to my doctor about a week ago that I think I'm beginning to have what I think may be hot flashes at times, wondering if this may mean anything. I'm not sure they are hot flashes and would have a harder time recognizing if I ever were moving toward menopause, as I had prolapse surgery that included a hysterectomy almost 8 years ago.

Mayo Clinic would say that 51 is an average for start of menopause in this general article on the topic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397. I am not a medical professional, but I think the word average is important here, meaning some women will experience menopause before or after that age.

I appreciate the experiences and resources that @baxtersmom has shared here, particularly some pros of later onset menopause pointed out in the article she is referencing.

Another Mayo Clinic article talking about misconceptions about menopause may also be useful https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/womens-wellness-menopause-misconceptions/. You'll note I did not find any Mayo Clinic articles focusing on late menopause in particular.

This is not a Mayo Clinic resource, but it references Mayo Clinic's numbers https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-age. These two sentences got my attention related to your query, cwms:

"The average age for menopause in the United States is 51, according to the Mayo Clinic. But menopause can happen to women throughout their 40s and 50s, too."

I'd also like to invite into this conversation @merpreb @fotula @lioness @sierrawoods @jigglejaws94 @kathyhg, all of whom have mentioned menopause in other Connect discussions, for their input on your being 59 without any distinct menopause symptoms.

What types of specialists have you seen thus far for a consult, cwms?

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As far as specialists, I've gone to 4 different gynocologist, and next week a 5th. I've had multiple uterine biopsies and even a D&C. Thankfully, all pathology reports are negative, but they say do say "exogenous estrogen effect" yet at that time I wasn't taking any hormones. I guess they looked at my age and thought I had to be in menopause so whatever estrogen effect they saw had to be exogenous as opposed to endogenous. Another part of the puzzle!

Is there another type of specialist that I should see?

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@cwms,
You sound like me. I have a back issue that keeps me from exercising a lot. I did dance for 25 years so I do have a fair amount of muscle but then there is the tummy and hip area. I just finally got the synthroid (levothyroxine) regulated after finding my thyroid on the high end of normal this past year. My TSH was over 4 and with the medicine it is now a little over 2 so it is helping. I do feel better but wish my back pain did not prohibit my movement on certain days.

I also was reminded that having estrogen for longer also helps bone density so that is another positive for you. The thyroid removal may very well have something to do with your situation. I would bring that up with the doctor if you have not already. And it may be good to see your thyroid doctor to talk about it rather than just primary care.

There is a Diabetes and Endocrine System Group here on Mayo Connect and you might take a look there (if you haven't already) and even post something asking if anyone has had their thyroid removed and knows anything about how this affects onset of menopause. This still does not substitute for talking about this possibility with your doctor but it is another resource and people on here are so good about sharing their own experiences.

I am new to the thyroid issue area since I was just diagnosed this year. But I am finding that it affects so many things and it explains a lot of things I had noticed. Just about the only symptom I did not have is hair loss which is quite a common one I understand. I have lost a couple of pounds since being on the levothyroxine but not as much as I would like. Isn't that always the truth!

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Hi, @cwms – yes, what @baxtersmom mentioned about checking out and perhaps posting in the Diabetes & Endocrine System group here on Mayo Clinic Connect might be a good idea https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/diabetes-and-endocrine-problems/. You might also talk to your primary care doctor or gynecologist about a potential referral to an endocrinologist.

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@lisalucier

Hi, @cwms – yes, what @baxtersmom mentioned about checking out and perhaps posting in the Diabetes & Endocrine System group here on Mayo Clinic Connect might be a good idea https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/diabetes-and-endocrine-problems/. You might also talk to your primary care doctor or gynecologist about a potential referral to an endocrinologist.

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@ Lisa- Thank you. I just posted a question on that board. Fingers crossed!

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@cwms like @baxtersmom I went through menopause at 57. From what I learned at the time that is more of a positive thing than a negative one. I was somewhat overweight which as said previously can delay menopause so that was probably what caused mine to be late. My periods did get somewhat heavier but the differences were not extreme. I don’t recall having hot flashes until well into the pre-menopausal time.

It sounds as you have been to numerous doctors and none are concerned so perhaps this is not as abnormal as you are thinking it is. The suggestion to see an endocrinologist sounds helpful too.
JK

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