Graphic designer, 30, reveals the heartbreaking reality of being diagnosed with premature menopause

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Healthy designer, 30, who suffered hot flushes and mood swings for two years reveals the heartbreaking moment she found out she was going through menopause at just 25Lorena Beatriz was just 23 when an ultrasound identified issues with her ovaries Her menstrual cycle stopped, but doctors struggled to pinpoint the causeTwo years later, she was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)  POI causes fertility problems and an increased risk of bone and heart diseaseJust one percent of women under 40 are diagnosed with the condition 

By Alice Murphy For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 19:20 EST, 5 November 2019 | Updated: 19:35 EST, 5 November 2019

A graphic designer who suffered dramatic mood swings, hot flushes and an almost non-existent libido for two years has revealed her shock at being diagnosed with ‘early onset menopause’ at just 25.

Lorena Beatriz, who was born in Brazil but lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, stopped taking the contraceptive pill at 23 and was alarmed to discover that her menstrual cycle had completely stopped.

After suffering from the symptoms for two years, she was eventually diagnosed with ‘spontaneous premature ovarian insufficiency’, a condition known as ‘early menopause’ which leaves her at risk of developing heart disease and unlikely to carry her own baby.

Graphic designer Lorena Beatriz (pictured) suffered from symptoms like unexplained mood swings, hot flushes and a dramatically decreased libido for years before being diagnosed with spontaneous premature ovarian insufficiency at the age of 25

‘My first reaction was to cry, because having children is something I had wanted for as long as I can remember. It was such a huge shock and I felt so alone, I didn’t even know it was possible to have the menopause at such a young age,’ she told FEMAIL.

Despite losing two jobs because of her debilitating symptoms and taking hormone replacement medication daily, Ms Beatriz  – who is now 30 – said the most difficult part of going through early menopause is how little people understand her condition.

In 2012, Ms Beatriz underwent a routine ultrasound in her native Brazil which identified unusually small ovaries.

At the request of her GP, she stopped taking the contraceptive pill and was alarmed to discover her menstrual periods had completely stopped.

Fit, active and healthy, Ms Beatriz struggled to understand why she was forced to face the harsh reality of going through menopause 25 years before her time

‘As soon as I stopped taking my pill, my periods stopped straight away. Looking back, I had all the symptoms of menopause – hot flushes, vaginal dryness, really drastic mood swings and very little sex drive,’ she said.

Still, it took two years and countless tests before a fertility specialist finally diagnosed her with spontaneous premature ovarian insufficiency, a condition affecting just one percent of women under 40.

‘They told me I was born with a smaller amount of eggs than normal – it was so overwhelming,’ she said. The reality of Spontaneous Premature Ovarian Insufficiency

Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) involves a loss of function of the ovaries in women under the age of 40.

Spontaneous POI affects just one percent of women under 40.

The condition is difficult to diagnose, and in the vast majority of cases – roughly 90 percent – the cause is never identified.

The earliest sign of Spontaneous POI is the complete loss of menstrual periods.

Side effects of Spontaneous POI:

Spontaneous POI causes menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, erratic mood swings, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness and dramatically decreased libido.

In many cases, the symptoms are more severe than those experienced by women in natural menopause, which typically begins around the age of 50.

Spontaneous POI also causes significant emotional distress, including depression, anxiety and general confusion.

It increases the risk of serious diseases including bone conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.

As with natural menopause, the majority of women with Spontaneous POI experience a loss of fertility.

There is a low chance – between one and five percent over a lifetime – of becoming pregnant without assistance, but the majority of women with Spontaneous POI who wish to become parents choose to adopt or foster children.

Source: Australasian Menopause Society

‘I ate well, I exercised, I lived a healthy life, so it was really confusing for me. Instead of getting the menopause in my early 50s, I got it 25 years early.

‘At the beginning, I was most worried about the fertility aspect, but when I learned about the other side effects of menopause I realised there were so many problems usually associated with elderly people that I could develop at a young age.

‘No one thinks about these things at 25 – cancer, osteoporosis, skin ageing, hair going grey – and the hardest part was feeling like I was going through it alone.

‘People judge you – they don’t feel empathy because they don’t understand what you’re going through.’

Ms Beatriz lost two jobs as she struggled to manage her debilitating symptoms and adapt to the side effects of hormone replacement therapy medication, which she now uses daily.

Today, Ms Beatriz manages her condition with daily doses of hormone replacement medication and finally feels comfortable to speak openly about her experience

‘Until the middle of this year, I had so many problems adapting to the hormone therapy – sometimes the quantities were too high, and I was anxious and highly strung, and sometimes they were too low, so I’d become depressed,’ she said.

‘Since May, I’ve been on a balanced dosage that works for me, but it took almost five years to reach this stable level.

‘Speaking openly about my condition means a lot to me because I feel like I’ve finally accepted my condition and who I am.’

In the future, Ms Beatriz hopes to adopt a child.

Menopausal hormone therapy is the most effective treatment currently available for menopause related symptoms, reducing the heightened risk of developing secondary conditions like heart disease and osteoporosis.

Associate Professor Amanda Vincent from Monash University in Melbourne said going through early menopause is a daunting and confusing time for young women like Ms Beatriz.

In the future, Ms Beatriz (pictured on her 30th birthday) hopes to adopt a child 

‘Early menopause can lead to infertility, psychological distress and increased risks of bone and heart disease. It can also be a very lonely,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Earlier this week, Monash University and RMIT researchers launched a new website, Healthtalk Australia, which provides support and information for Australian women diagnosed with early menopause.

Project coordinator Kate Johnston-Ataata said the website was created in response to the lack of resources available for women in Australia.

‘Early menopause is a condition that’s so under recognised – the resources are scattered and few and far between.

‘Infertility is a obviously a huge issue, but I think the biggest thing for women with early menopause is actually isolation and feeling completely out of sync with their peers. 

‘It’s equally hard for them to relate to women their age, and older women going through natural menopause.’

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