Not every woman experiences menopause in the same manner. The severity of menopause symptoms is affected by a variety of behavioural, biological, social, psychological, and demographic factors. According to a recent study, infertility may increase the probability of acquiring some menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, and difficulties sleeping.
The study’s findings are now available online in Menopause, The Menopause Society’s journal. The frequency and timing of menopause symptoms have been connected to a woman’s reproductive history.
Despite the scarcity of studies on the association between infertility and the onset of menopause or the severity of menopausal symptoms, there is some indication that women with a history of infertility may suffer earlier menopause and more severe menopausal symptoms.
Furthermore, stressful life experiences have been associated with increased menopause symptoms, and infertility has been shown to be as upsetting as receiving a cancer diagnosis.
The goal of this new study involving nearly 700 midlife women was to specifically evaluate the effect of a lifetime history of infertility on the experience of menopause symptoms in midlife. Of the study participants, roughly one-third (36.6 per cent) reported ever experiencing infertility. This is higher than the national average of infertility overall that, according to at least one study (The Nurses’ Health Study), was estimated at 27.6 per cent.
Based on the findings, researchers in this new study concluded that women with a history of infertility had greater odds of experiencing sleep problems, depressive mood, and irritability. No association was documented between infertility and other common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or anxiety.
This is not the first time that infertility has been associated with depression. Prior studies have shown that 30 per cent to 60 per cent of women undergoing evaluation and treatment of infertility screen positive for depression. This is the first study, however, to show that a prior history of infertility is associated with depressive symptoms in midlife and could be considered a flag for increased screening for depressive symptoms in midlife.
Study results are published in the article “Exploring the relationship between history of infertility and the experience of menopausal symptoms.”
“This study shows an association between a history of infertility and increased odds of depression and sleep symptoms in midlife. Women in midlife with a history of infertility may benefit from increased screening for depression,” says Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society.