Early Menopause Linked to a Woman’s Reproductive History

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The age at which women get their first period, along with the number of children they have, may influence when they enter menopause, a new study from Australia finds.

Women in the study who got their first period before age 12 and had no children were five times more likely to experience premature menopause, and twice as likely to experience early menopause, than were women who got their first period at age 12 or later, and who had two or more children. Women are considered to have premature menopause if they stop menstruating before age 40; they’re considered to enter early menopause if they stop menstruating between ages 40 and 44.

In the study, the researchers looked at data that was drawn from nine previous observational studies about 51,450 menopausal women in the U.K., Scandinavia, Australia and Japan. The researchers looked at the self-reported age of a woman’s first period as well as how many children she had.

The researchers wrote in their findings that they hope that the study will help shape clinical guidelines for reproductive health. For instance, doctors may decide to prepare women with no children, who had their first period before age 12, for the possibility of early menopause, to help them make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

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