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New treatment for menopause in women in 20s

November 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's a new treatment for a condition that causes women to enter menopause early, in some cases in their 20s.For most women, menopause hits sometime after 50. But thousands of young women hit menopause decades too early, which for some could mean motherhood is out of the question. Now, a new hormone treatment may help reverse the damage.

Christine Eads spends her day talking to Sirius XM Radio listeners about Hollywood happenings, current events, even the latest TV shows.

"I have to watch television and read magazines, and it's just horrible," said Eads.

But what played out in her real life was more like a bad soap opera. After years of irregular periods, night sweats and dozens of doctor's visits, even being told she might have a sexually transmitted disease. She finally received the correct diagnosis: menopause at 26.

"It turns out sometimes young women, even teenagers, can have the signs and symptoms of menopause develop," said Dr. Lawrence Nelson, a reproductive endocrinologist.

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) affects one out of every 1,000 women between 15 and 29 years old. The ovaries don't work right. A simple blood test can determine if you have it, but it's often misdiagnosed for years.

Eads enrolled in a National Institutes of Health study. She wore a patch that pumped her full of estrogen and testosterone to regulate her hormones.

A breakthrough in a study done by Dr. Nelson found 73 percent of women with POI may still be able to have a baby.

"Most of them still have the capability of the ovary to work again, it's just that something is keeping it from working normally," said Nelson.

Not only did the patch help Eads with her POI, she had a baby boy.

"He's a very cool kid. He's eight now. Yeah, he is amazing. I am so lucky," said Eads.

Nelson says women with POI are also more at risk for developing osteoporosis later in life.


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