How the menstrual period affects our fertility

A recent study * with over 50,000 women reveals a link between the age at the first menstrual period, childlessness and the onset of menopause. In the surveyed women from the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Australia and Japan, it was found that early onset of menstrual bleeding increased the risk of getting over the age of 40 years. For example, childless women at the examination stated that they had their first menstrual period at the age of 11, while women with two or more children had their first menstrual period of at least 12 years. "The findings of the study can be very important for family planning and lifestyle decisions," says Univ. Prof. Dr. Heinz Strohmer, founder and director of the Kinderwunschzentrum Goldenes Kreuz.

Real fertility killer

According to the study, one in ten women are affected by premature or early menopause. In addition to hormonal factors and genetic predisposition, personal lifestyle influences the onset of menopause. In particular, smoking has a strong impact on the number of fertile years. "Women who had the first rule early on should not give up smoking if family planning is not completed." The combination can be a veritable fertility killer, " says Strohmer.

What does premature menopause mean?

Premature menopause is reported in women under the age of 40, while early menopause affects women between the ages of 40 and 44 years. If the menopause occurs prematurely, the risk for later chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type 2 and osteoporosis increases. "Of course, these health risks are independent of family planning and thus affect all women," Strohmer explains the study results. In 2% of the study participants, premature and 7.6% of women had an early menopause.

Every seventh woman is at risk

The timing of the first menstrual period depends on various factors, such as the weight of the mother at birth, overweight or mental stress. In 14% of women, the first menstruation occurs at the age of eleven or younger – this is called early menstruation. For these women, there is a greater risk of premature or early menopause than those whose menstrual period occurs at the age of twelve or more. A healthy lifestyle, full nutrition, regular exercise and a stress-free living environment contribute to risk reduction. "The study results once again emphasize the importance of individualized medicine. The better you know your own risk factors, the more informed decisions can be made, " says Strohmer.

Univ. Prof. Dr. Heinz Strohmer, founder and director of the Fertility Center Goldenes Kreuz * Source: Source: Human Reproduction, pp. 1-8, 2017; Early menarche, nulliparity and the risk for premature and early natural menopause