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Getting period at 11 or younger ups risk of early menopause

A new study reveals that girls who start menstruating at an age of 11 or younger are at increased risk of early or premature menopause and if they remain childless the risk is increased even more.

The study, which is published in Human Reproduction, indicates that the risk increased even further for women whose periods started early if they had no children: the risk of premature or early menopause increased five-fold and two-fold respectively compared to women who had their first period aged 12 or older and who had two or more children. “If the findings from our study were incorporated into clinical guidelines for advising childless women from around the age of 35 years who had their first period aged 11 or younger, clinicians could gain valuable time to prepare these women for the possibility of premature or early menopause,” said lead researcher Gita Mishra from Queensland in Australia.

“It provides an opportunity for clinicians to include women’s reproductive history alongside other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, when assessing the risk of early menopause and enables them to focus health messages more effectively both earlier in life and for women at most risk. In addition, they could consider early strategies for preventing and detecting chronic conditions that are linked to earlier menopause, such as heart disease,” Mishra added.

The study looked at 51,450 women among which most of them were born before 1960, with two-thirds born between 1930 and 1949.

The results suggest that women who started their menstrual periods aged 11 or younger had an 80% higher risk of experiencing a natural menopause before the age of 40 and a 30% higher risk of menopause between the ages of 40-44, when compared with women whose first period occurred between the ages of 12 and 13.

Women who had never been pregnant or who had never had children had a two-fold increased risk of premature menopause and a 30% increased risk of early menopause.

In this study only 12 percent of the women remained childless and it is possible that they may have remained childless due to ovarian problems, which may or may not have been detected and which might also be implicated in the early onset of menopause, the researchers concluded.