Optimising health after early menopause

Elsevier, The Lancet, 2024, ISSN 0140-6736, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)02800-3.
Gita D Mishra, Melanie C Davies, Sarah Hillman, Hsin-Fang Chung, Subho Roy, Kate Maclaran, Martha Hickey

The typical age at menopause is 50–51 years in high-income countries. However, early menopause is common, with around 8% of women in high-income countries and 12% of women globally experiencing menopause between the ages of 40 years and 44 years. Menopause before age 40 years (premature ovarian insufficiency) affects an additional 2–4% of women. Both early menopause and premature ovarian insufficiency can herald an increased risk of chronic disease, including osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. People who enter menopause at younger ages might also experience distress and feel less supported than those who reach menopause at the average age. Clinical practice guidelines are available for the diagnosis and management of premature ovarian insufficiency, but there is a gap in clinical guidance for early menopause. We argue that instead of distinct age thresholds being applied, early menopause should be seen on a spectrum between premature ovarian insufficiency and menopause at the average age. This Series paper presents evidence for the short-term and long-term consequences of early menopause. We offer a practical framework for clinicians to guide diagnosis and management of early menopause, which considers the nature and severity of symptoms, age and medical history, and the individual's wishes and priorities to optimise their quality of life and short-term and long-term health. We conclude with recommendations for future research to address key gaps in the current evidence.