The onset of menstruation seems to affect menopause
The so-called menopause denotes the end of the physically fertile period in women. Researchers have now found that women start menopause earlier if they have their first menstruation before their 12th birthday.
The researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia found in an investigation that an earlier start of menstruation can also lead to premature menopause. If menstruation began before the 12th birthday in women, these women often also had an early menopause. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Human Reproduction".
Doctors examine about 50,000 women for their study
One of the largest studies of its kind has now been completed in Australia. About 50,000 postmenopausal women in the UK, Australia, Japan and Scandinavia participated in the study.
Most women have their first period around the age of 13
For most women, the first period occurred around the age of 13. The last period for these women was often around the age of 50, the experts explain. 14 percent of the participants had their first period before they were twelve years old. There were also about 10 percent who had the last period 45 years ago.
Women with the first period at the age of 12 are more likely to have premature menopause
In their study, the doctors tried to find out whether there is a connection between early menstruation and early menopause. It was found that when women had their first menstruation at the age of twelve years, premature menopause was 31 percent more common, the scientists say. This then occurs between the ages of 40 and 44 years.
Effects of early menstruation
When the participants had their first period at the age of 13, only 1.8 percent had premature menopause (before the age of 40) and menopause was premature in 7.2 percent. However, if women had their first period when they were only 11 years old or younger, this led to premature menopause in 3.1 percent and premature menopause in 8.8 percent, the study authors explain.
Stress at a young age could be involved in premature menopause
Certain factors in women's early life could have an impact on premature menopause, explains author Gita Mishra of the University of Queensland. For example, we know that stress during childhood can lead to earlier menstruation. Perhaps this stress also affects the age at which menopause occurs, the expert adds.
Childlessness can affect menopause
If women were childless, this was also related to previous menopause. In women who had no children and had their first period before the age of 12, menopause was five times more likely to occur than women with two or more children and had their first menstruation at the age of 12 or later, the doctors explain .
Does fertility drop earlier in women with early menopause?
Often these women also had difficulty getting pregnant, Mishra says. This suggests that there was a link between early menstruation, infertility, and premature menopause. If women start menopause in their 30s, their fertility could drop as early as their 20s.
Smoking increases the risk of premature menopause
So women should know that menstruation at a young age can lead to premature menopause. If women take this into account, they can change their life plans and, for example, try to have children earlier, the researchers report. In addition, women should quit smoking because it further increases the risk of premature menopause, Mishra explains.
Women need to be better prepared for menopause and its effects
Women must also be prepared for chronic illnesses that accompany menopause. Menopause is a marker of biological age for women and has a variety of health effects that women can take care of themselves, the researchers emphasize. For example, they can look after a healthier diet or improve their physical activity. (as)