New study finds women in US may be experiencing menopause at later age

ABC News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton weighs in on what this means for women’s reproductive health timelines.
2:20 | 04/07/21

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Transcript for New study finds women in US may be experiencing menopause at later age
And now to a "Gma" health a new study published in the journal of the American medical association finding women in the U.S. May be experiencing menopause at a later age and may have slightly more reproductive years overall than 40 years ago. Dr. Jen Ashton joins us with more. Jen, hi tell us about this study. What does it show? This was interesting done by researchers at temple university of Pennsylvania and my ALMA mater Columbia university and they tracked timing of some major reproductive milestones over a women's life. When they got their first period, when they go through menopause. The numbers, what they found on average the age of menopause increased from 48.4 to 49.9. That's about a year and a half. That increased their average reproductive years span from age 35 to 37.1. And then the age that a girl got her first period dropped slightly from 13 1/2 to 12.7, so, you know, this is kind of an important number here and it's good to get a grip on what's happening over a woman's reproductive life. Interesting but what's the significance of those numbers for women? Well, I when an ob/gyn hears this we think heart disease and cancer. With this broadening of the total reproductive lifespan, if you will, you see a slight decrease potentially in cardiovascular disease, however, there is the possibility for an increase in risk of what we call hormonally responsive cancers so breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. The more hormonal stimulation across a woman's lifetime those cancers can go up. What is your advice for women and young girls with this new information? I think when women hear this we have to remember these milestones in life while natural can be problematic. There's a range of symptoms, so on the milder end, both when a first period and menopause, guess what, the symptoms can be the same. Fatigue, cramping, but there can be severe symptoms as well, mood changes, severe pelvic pain, heavy bleeding. That can affect both teenagers and women around menopause, so good to be aware. All right, thank you very much, Dr. Jen. We appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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