Women who start menstruating when they were 11 or younger are more likely to hit menopause before the age of 40.
A new study finds that early menopause and earlier periods can be related. If these women who experience early menstruation do not have children, they will be even more likely to have premature menopause.
A woman’s age at her first period as well as her last period are both huge markers in her reproductive health history. This study, published in the Human Reproduction journal, sought to better understand the potential link between the two stages and what that link might mean for women’s health overall. The study compiled data from nine other studies, encompassing the experiences of over 50,000 women from around the world – Australia, Denmark, England and Japan.
Women in the study who got their first period before age 12 were 80 percent more likely to experience premature menopause than women who got their first periods later. The median age of a first period for woman in the study was 13 and the median age for menopause was 50.
Premature menopause designates that a woman stops menstruating before age 40, while women who enter early menopause generally stop menstruating between ages 40 and 44.
For most women, the process of menopause comes with a plethora of undesirable side-effects including bone loss, fatigue, hot flashes and weight gain. On top of experiencing these discomforts, early menopause can increase the risk of more serious health concerns, such as diabetes, endometriosis, heart disease and polycystic ovary syndrome.
The researchers who worked on the study insist on the importance of women’s awareness that early menstruation can be a potential health risk factor, as it can better prepare women to cope with the possibility of various diseases and grant doctors the opportunity to monitor and intervene as soon as possible.
When clinicians are aware of all of the other factors that can influence menopause timing — the age of a woman’s mother when she reached menopause, the number of children she has given birth to, and various lifestyle choices such as smoking — they can better anticipate the occurrence of certain health problems even before a woman stops menstruating.
“Women should be informed of their elevated risk of premature menopause if they began menstruating at a young age,” said Gita Mishra, the lead author of the paper and an epidemiology professor at The University of Queensland. “Especially those with fertility problems, so that they can make informed decisions.”