Women infected with HIV are more likely to enter menopause at an average age of 48 years which is three years younger than the general population, according to a study in Canada which may lead to new strategies in planning their care.
Researchers from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) noted that the average age of menopause in Canada and the United States is between 50 and 52 years. Based on earlier studies, they said that women living with HIV are at an increased possibility of experiencing early age (between 40 and 45 years) and premature age (less than 40 years) menopause.
The current study from Canada published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, is the first to determine the average age of menopause for HIV patients, the researchers said.
According to the study, the prevalence of early menopause in HIV+ patients was on average between 40 and 45 years, and premature menopause happened before 40 years of age.
The researchers said that women living with HIV experience menopause at a younger age -- specifically 48 years -- roughly 3 years earlier than uninfected women.
These women, they said, also had higher rates of early menopause and premature menopause. The study said lower education and hepatitis C coinfections may influence the risk of early menopause, with other factors such as marital status and region of birth also playing a part.
According to the researchers, a woman's increased likelihood of experiencing early menopause has implications for healthcare practitioners planning their care since the transition is linked to changes in mood, sexual function, reduced quality of life, and increased the risk of developing other disorders such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
"Healthcare practitioners should be aware of the increased risk for premature and early menopause in their female patients living with HIV in order to provide appropriate counseling and management, given the known increased risk for potential adverse long-term health consequences associated with early estrogen deprivation," said Stephanie Faubion, director of NAMS.
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