Studies show about eight of every 100 women of childbearing age – about 3.9 million women – go through natural menopause before the age of 40. Sometimes early menopause has a genetic basis and a 2006 study has attributed it to certain genes. In these families premature graying of the hair, sometimes as early as the 20s, is often seen. About 3.2 percent of women with premature ovarian failure also have Addison’s disease, an autoimmune disease of the adrenal glands. Addison’s disease is easily treated but it can be dangerous for women who don’t know they have it. If a genetic basis is suspected these women are well advised to consider having their families at an earlier age. If your periods stop and you suspect premature menopause, see an endocrinologist to confirm that it is truly menopause and not a temporary cessation from some other abnormality.