She says more study is needed on apparent chances for early menopause before women make family planning decisions based on this research
In this study addressed in the Reuters article, researchers tracked 108,887 women, ages 25 to 42, who had not yet gone through menopause. Just over half had experienced at least one pregnancy lasting at least six months. More than half of these mothers exclusively breastfed their babies for at least one month.
During follow-up for up to 25 years, the study found women who had one pregnancy were 13% less likely to experience menopause before age 45, and the risk declined with subsequent pregnancies. Breastfeeding appeared to explain at least some of the reduced risk. After accounting for that factor, a single pregnancy was still associated with an 8% lower risk of early menopause.
“It’s been long suspected that processes that suppress ovarian function help to preserve the numbers of eggs left in the ovary,” said CU OB-GYN’s Dr. Nanette Santoro, adding that more research needs to be done in order to be conclusive. “These effects are usually small and so it takes a very large population as in this study to demonstrate them.”