HealthDay News — Irregular and long menstrual cycles throughout the life course are associated with an increased risk for premature mortality, according to a study published online Sept. 30 in The BMJ.
Yi-Xin Wang, Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined whether irregular or long menstrual cycles are associated with premature mortality among 79,505 premenopausal women in the Nurses’ Health Study II who reported the length and regularity of their menstrual cycles at ages 14 to 17, 18 to 22, and 29 to 46 years.
The researchers documented 1,975 premature deaths during 24 years of follow-up. Compared with women who reported very regular cycles, those who reported always having irregular cycles in the same age ranges experienced higher mortality rates during follow-up, with multivariable adjusted hazard ratios for premature death during follow-up of 1.18, 1.37, and 1.39 for women with cycle characteristics at ages 14 to 17, 18 to 22, and 29 to 46 years, respectively. Women who reported that their usual cycle length was 40 days or more were more likely to die prematurely than those with a cycle length of 26 to 31 days (hazard ratios, 1.34 and 1.40 for cycle characteristics at ages 18 to 22 and 29 to 46 years, respectively).
“Our results emphasize the need for primary care providers to include menstrual cycle characteristics throughout the reproductive years as additional vital signs in assessing women’s general health status,” the authors write.