Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that early menstruation increases the likelihood of hot flushes and night sweats decades later at menopause.
For the study published in the journal BJOG, the research team analysed data from more than 18,000 middle-aged women across the UK, the US and Australia, as part of the ‘Life-course Approach to reproductive health and Chronic disease Events’ (InterLACE) international collaboration.
“Our finding encourages women with early menstruation to engage in health promotion programmes, especially weight management in adulthood,” said study lead author Gita Mishra, Professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.
During the study, the researchers showed that women who started menstruating aged 11 or younger had a 50 per cent higher risk of experiencing frequent hot flushes and night sweats — known as vasomotor symptoms — at menopause.
The group was also compared to women who had their first period at 14 or thereafter. The risk of the women who menstruated early of experiencing both the symptoms was greater than having either hot flushes or night sweats alone, the research team said.
According to the study, early menstruation previously had been linked to adverse health conditions later in life, including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
“Women who experienced early menstruation and were overweight or obese in midlife had two times greater risk of frequent hot flushes and night sweats, compared to women who experienced their first period aged 14 years or older, and had normal weight,” Mishra said.
“Our objective was to examine the association between age at menarche and risk of vasomotor menopausal symptoms (VMS) and whether midlife body mass index (BMI) modified the association,” the study authors wrote.
“We found that overweight and obesity exacerbate the risk of vasomotor symptoms associated with early menstruation,” they noted.