Women who are skinny are also prone to fertility problems, much in the same way overweight ladies are. A new study finds that being underweight as a teenager and during their mid-30s increases a woman’s chance of having an early menopause, as reported by The Daily Mail.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Boston analyzed the data of 78,759 premenopausal women who were 25 to 42 years old. The medical history and health-related behaviors of the participants came from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which started in 1989 and was updated every two years. It is also the largest study into the association of women and chronic diseases. The researchers followed the participants until 2011, when 2,804 women had reported premature menopause.
Results revealed that underweight women at any age had a 30 percent greater chance of premature menopause in comparison with women who had normal body mass indexes (BMIs), while those who were overweight had a 21 to 30 percent lower chance of having a premature menopause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), underweight people have a BMI of 18.5 or lower.
Moreover, those who were underweight and lost 20 lbs or nine kg at three different times when they were 18 to 30 years old were 2.4 times more prone to having a premature menopause. The results also showed that those who were underweight at age 18 had a 50 percent more risk of premature menopause, and those who were underweight at age 35 had a 59 percent higher risk.
“Our findings suggest that women who are underweight in early or mid-adulthood may be at increased risk for an early menopause,” said Kathleen Szegda, lead author of the study. “Underweight women may want to consider discussing the potential implications of these findings with their doctors.”
Szegda also said that at least 10 percent of women undergo early menopause. These women are more prone to developing cardiovascular diseases and other health complications, including cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, and early death. (Related: Early menopause in women raises the risk for type 2 diabetes, research shows.)
“These findings have important implications for women and their doctors,” Szegda said.
The researchers, however, noted that the causes of early menopause are still unclear and further research is needed to identify how BMIs affect the onset of menopause.
The study was published in the journal Human Reproduction and was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Fast facts on menopause
Menopause, as defined by Menopause.org, is a natural occurrence in women that is defined as their last menstrual period. This is only confirmed when a woman does not have her menstrual period for one straight year. Menopause happens to women around the ages of 40 to 58, or at an average age of 51.
Perimenopause is the phase when changes in the hormones occur and it starts years before the actual menopausal stage. It is the phase when lesser female hormones estrogen and progesterone and the ovaries release eggs frequently.
Early menopause is when women stop menstruating before the age of 40.
According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, the common symptoms of menopause include experiencing hot flashes, sweating at night, having a hard time sleeping, decreased sex drive, struggling with memory and concentration, feeling vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sexual intercourse, headaches, changing of mood, palpitations, stiffness, aches, and pains in the joints, lesser muscle mass, and recurring urinary tract infections, like cystitis.
Find out more news about women’s health at WomensHealth.news.