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Menopause and socio-economic position across the life course

Three thousand and five hundred and thirteen women aged 60-79 years were included in this British heart study, they did not include those who had undergone a surgical menopause.

The results have shown that those women who were from the manual social classes in childhood began their menopause on average 0.68 years earlier than those from non-manual social classes. Those who lived in a house as a child without a bathroom began their menopause 0.47 years earlier than those with a bathroom.

Those who shared a bedroom began 0.36 years earlier than those who had their own bedroom and finally those who lived in a household with no access to a car as a child began their menopause 0.47 years earlier than those with access to a car.

Adult indicators of adverse socio-economic position were similarly associated with earlier age at menopause. Age at completing full time education was not substantively associated with age at menopause.

Throughout the whole study it was found that the age at onset of menopause for women who had 9 or 10 adverse socio-economic indicators was on average 1.70 years younger than that of women with none or only one indicator. It was therefore concluded that adverse socio-economic circumstances in childhood, as well as in adulthood, are associated with an earlier age at menopause.

The association between childhood deprivation and early menopause may at least in part be mediated via exposures, such as childhood diet, which affect both linear growth and age at menopause.

Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational counsellor, coach and women's health advocate. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in change management, culture change and adoption of digital technologies in large enterprises and organisations. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

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