Senior woman and caregiver outdoors on a walk in park, talking.

Women who reach menopause prematurely have greater odds of developing multiple chronic conditions after age 60, according to Australian researchers. 

Investigators tracked the health of 5,000 study participants for 20 years. They found that women whose menopause started at age 40 or earlier were twice as likely to develop multiple health conditions by age 60 as their peers who experienced menopause at ages 50 to 51. They were also three times as likely to have chronic conditions after age 60.

Multimorbidity is common in mid-aged and older women, and may be tied to hormone loss after menopause, explained senior author Gita Mishra, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland. In fact, fully half of the 5,000 participants had multimorbidity by the end of the study. 

Investigators defined multimorbidity as having two or more common chronic diseases. These included diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, anxiety or breast cancer. 

Clinicians may want to consider risk-assessment screening for women who have experienced natural premature menopause, Mishra concluded.

Full findings were published in the journal Human Reproduction.