Women who have their first menstrual period aged 11 or younger are at an increased risk of early menopause and the risk is even higher if they remain childless, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has warned.Researchers, including those at University of Queensland, looked at 51,450 women who had agreed to take part in nine studies in the UK, Scandinavia, Australia and Japan.It found that women who started their menstrual periods aged 11 or younger had an 80 per cent higher risk of experiencing a natural menopause before the age of 40 (premature menopause) and a 30 per cent higher risk of menopause between the ages of 40-44 (early menopause), when compared with women whose first period occurred between the ages of 12 and 13. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfWomen who had never been pregnant or who had never had children had a two-fold increased risk of premature menopause and a 30 per cent increased risk of early menopause.The risk increased even further for women whose periods started early if they had no children: the risk of premature or early menopause increased five-fold and two-fold respectively compared to women who had their first period aged 12 or older and who had two or more children.”If the findings from our study were incorporated into clinical guidelines for advising childless women from around the age of 35 years who had their first period aged 11 or younger, clinicians could gain valuable time to prepare these women for the possibility of premature or early menopause,” said lead researcher Gita Mishra from the University of Queensland in Australia. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive”It provides an opportunity for clinicians to include women’s reproductive history alongside other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, when assessing the risk of early menopause, and enables them to focus health messages more effectively both earlier in life and for women at most risk,” said Mishra.Most of the women in the study were born before 1960, with two-thirds born between 1930 and 1949. “We expect that the underlying relationship between these reproductive characteristics across life is still present, but it may be that our definition of early menarche would be revised,” Mishra said. “It is also possible that we will see a higher prevalence of premature menopause for the current generation of women.Another change worth considering is that fertility treatments today can enable women to have children, whereas previously they would have been childless,” she said.In this study only 12 of the women remained childless and it is possible that they may have remained childless due to ovarian problems, which may or may not have been detected, and which might also be implicated in the early onset of menopause. The study was published in the journal Human Reproduction.