Why does early menopause affect fertility?
Menopause is when you stop having periods and your ovaries no longer release eggs. Once you’ve gone through the menopause, you’ll be infertile – or no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Early menopause is when you go through the menopause between the ages of 40 and 45. If your menopause happens before the age of 40, it’s known as premature menopause (or premature ovarian insufficiency). Most people go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55.
An early or premature menopause can happen naturally. Or it might be due to certain medical or surgical treatments you’ve had.
Can you get pregnant if you have an early menopause?
If you’re going through early menopause, you may still be able to get pregnant during the ‘perimenopause’. This is the phase before your periods completely stop. Your fertility will be declining though, meaning it will become harder to get pregnant.
You’re said to have gone through the menopause once you haven’t had a period for a year. You won’t usually be able to get pregnant naturally after this point.
If you have premature menopause, there’s a chance that your ovaries may suddenly start working again, and you may get pregnant. This happens in up to 10 percent of people who have been diagnosed with premature menopause. If you had your ovaries removed you can’t get pregnant.
What are my options for having children after early menopause?
If you’ve had an early menopause and still want to have children, there are several options that you may be able to try. Getting fertility treatment on the NHS can depend on certain factors including where you live.
If you are not eligible for NHS funding in your area, you will need to pay privately. You may want to book an appointment at a fertility clinic to talk through the possibilities.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority website has information on accredited clinics.
Some of the options may include the following.
In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
In IVF, eggs and sperm are used to make embryos in a lab. Embryos are then transferred into your womb. You might have frozen eggs if your menopause is due to something like cancer treatment. Otherwise, you’ll need eggs or embryos from a donor. Clinics usually have a list of registered donors, or you may be able to find your own. Your doctor at the fertility clinic can talk you through how this works.
This is when another woman carries and gives birth to a baby for you. It may be that the surrogate’s own egg is fertilised with sperm from your partner if you have one. Or it could be that either donor eggs and/or donor sperm are used. Fertility clinics in the UK aren’t allowed to help find a surrogate. But they can carry out the fertility treatment involved.
If you are considering adopting a child, you can contact an adoption agency to start the process. You will need to be approved for adoption before you can matched with a child.
How can I get emotional support for fertility problems?
Struggling with fertility problems can be emotionally draining. You may have a partner, friends or family you can rely on. But you may also find it helpful to get support from a counsellor, or people who have been in the same situation.
There are several ways to access this support. All fertility clinics must offer you the opportunity to talk to a counsellor. Some will also give you the chance to talk to other patients who have had similar treatments.
Ways to get counselling can be:
Where can I find fertility and early menopause support and information?
Organisations that can offer support, advice or information about fertility problems include:
And the Daisy Network charity is a great resource for supporting women who have had a premature menopause.