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Will I have an early menopause like my mum?

Menopause demystified: looking at the science behind common menopause questions

  • The average age of menopause in the UK is 51
  • While menopause can’t be predicted, certain factors can influence when menopause happens, including genes
  • Tips on talking to your family members about their menopause

The average age for menopause onset in the UK is fifty-one.

But it is exactly that – an average.

Menopause before 45 is known as an early menopause, while menopause before the age of 40 is known as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). POI is a lot more common than most people think: it affects about 1 in 100 women under the age of 40, and 1 in 1,000 women under 30 [1]. Even girls in their teens can be perimenopausal or menopausal.

And while there is no definitive answer for when the menopause will happen for you, sometimes your genes, including when your mum went through her menopause, can give a good indication of when it may happen for you.

RELATED: Am I too young to be menopausal?

This family link has been explored in research over the decades. In 1995, a study looked at the likelihood of an early menopause in women with and without a family history of early menopause – defined as younger than forty-six for the purposes of the study.

Overall, 37.5% of the early menopause cases reported a family history of menopause before age forty-six years in a mother, sister, aunt or grandmother. Risk for early menopause associated with family history was greatest for those who had a sister who’d had an earlier menopause [2].

And it’s worth remembering that there are other factors that can influence when you go through menopause, including certain types of surgery, radiotherapy to the pelvic area and some types of chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer.

In addition, women who have autoimmune diseases (where the body attacks its own cells) are more likely to have POI – for example, Addison’s disease, thyroid disease, diabetes and coeliac disease are all autoimmune diseases. Genetic conditions such as fragile X syndrome and Turner syndrome may also lead to POI, but this is very rare and, if it does occur, it is more likely in much younger women.

RELATED: Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)

What’s the bottom line?

While there is no definitive way to predict when you go through the menopause, genes may play a part, so it worth asking female family members about their menopause.

You could ask questions such as:

  • when did they become menopausal?
  • what sort of symptoms did they experience?
  • can they remember when other female family members became menopausal, such as their own mother, grandmother, sister or aunt?


1. The Daisy Network, ‘What is POI?’

2. Cramer, D. W., Xu, H., Harlow, B. L. (1995), ‘Family history as a predictor of early menopause’, Fertility and Sterility, 64(4), pp. 740–5, doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(16)57849-2

Will I have an early menopause like my mum?

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