(BlackDoctor.org) — Twin sisters face triple the odds of entering menopause prematurely compared to women who don’t have a twin, researchers report. “It’s a three-to-five-fold increase in risk of having menopause before the age of 40,” said study lead author Roger Gosden,
director of reproductive biology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. However, he added, “We have to bear in mind that over 95 percent of women who are twins will still have menopause at the normal time. There shouldn’t be any general alarm.”
The study was published Wednesday in the Oct. 25 online edition of Human Reproduction.
Overall, about 1 percent of adult women have premature ovarian failure (POF), prompting menopause before the age of 40. Not only does this affect fertility, but it may also boost risks for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
The mean age of menopause is 50 to 52 years.
Gosden had already published research on a twin who underwent POF at age 14. The woman’s twin, however, remained fertile and was able to donate ovarian tissue to her sister for a transplant.
“It was that study that stimulated us to do this big survey and to find out how common early menopause is in identical twins and how often there may be discordances,” Gosden explained.
There had already been hints in the medical literature that fraternal twins might be at higher risk of early ovarian failure. The current study confirmed that and added new information about identical twins.
In all, the researchers looked at 428 twin pairs from an Australian twin register and 404 from a British twin registry. These were compared to a control group of 3,483 Dutch women. Women who had undergone a hysterectomy were automatically excluded.
Rates of POF were similar in both registries and three-to-five times higher than the general population at ages 40 and 45. This was true of both fraternal and identical twins.