Women with early periods at risk of early menopause

An international study has linked early puberty and not having children with an increased risk of early menopause in women.

The study found women who had their first period before the age of 11 were 80 per cent more likely to experience premature or early menopause, according to Professor Gita Mishra from the University of Queensland, Australia.

“This is important information because we know these women have a higher risk of developing chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis,” Professor Mishra said.

Nearly one in ten women experience premature menopause (a final period before the age of 40), or early menopause (a final period between the ages of 40 and 44 years).

Professor Mishra said the risk of early or premature menopause was doubled in women who did not have children compared to those who had two or more children.

She added: “The combination of an early period and childlessness led to a five-fold increase in the risk of premature menopause and a two-fold increase in the risk of early menopause, compared to those who started their periods after age 12 and had two or more children.”

Researchers explained that the study considered childlessness as an indicator of underlying fertility issues as the women involved were from an era when general fertility was high and there was little access to infertility treatments.

Professor Mishra said that the results are relevant to younger generations of women where there is an increasingly early onset of puberty. She explained that women who began puberty early can “talk to their GPs and take action early to improve their health outcomes in later life”.

The study looked at data from 51,450 post-menopausal women from observational studies in the UK, Scandinavia, Australia and Japan.ADNFCR-2094-ID-801831693-ADNFCR