Menopause Causes

Aging Isn’t the Only Cause of Menopause

Written by Daniel J. Toft MD, PhD
Reviewed by Brigid Gregg MD

Every woman experiences menopause, but not every woman reaches menopause the same way. In most cases, menopause is a result of the natural aging process, but menopause has other causes. Certain medical procedures and rare ovarian conditions can also trigger it.

Natural menopause is caused by aging. As you reach your late 30s, healthy ovarian sex hormone production begins to change. The ovaries release less estrogen and progesterone, and the chances of getting pregnant decrease because the ovaries produce fewer viable eggs.

Your ovaries will eventually stop producing eggs and estrogen levels will be significantly reduced. After 12 consecutive months of missed periods, you have technically reached menopause. Most women experience natural menopause around 51 years of age.

Induced Menopause
Induced menopause is menopause caused by medical procedures or treatments. A woman can have menopause induced at any age between her first and last periods.

Surgical procedures and cancer treatments commonly induce menopause:

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency
A small amount of women—about 1%—reach menopause before age 40. This is known as premature menopause. This may occur from primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), which occurs when your ovaries are unable to produce sufficient amounts of hormones.

In many cases, physicians are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of POI. It can be due to an autoimmune disease, an infection, or have a genetic cause. Your doctor may run tests to rule out these known causes of POI.

Regardless of the cause of menopause, what's most important is that you keep your doctor involved. He or she will educate you on treatment options and help you avoid any potential complications.