HIV-positive women will experience menopause, on average, three years sooner than HIV-negative women.
With advancements in treatments, people are living longer with the virus, with many of them expecting to live well into their 70s so long as they take the drug regimen. This means they are going to face aging-related issues that affect their reproductive and sexual health – menopause included.
It’s why doctors and other healthcare professionals need to be mindful of the issue.
North American Menopause Society Medical Director Dr. Stephanie Faubion said it’s imperative those in the healthcare field understand the increased chance for early and premature menopause in females with HIV to give them proper counseling and manage their symptoms.
A woman who goes through early menopause has an increased risk for negative long-term health problems that have been tied to the early deficiency in estrogen.
The average age for North American (U.S. and Canada) women experience menopause is 50 to 52 years.
A look at over 200 Canadian women found HIV-positive women were liable to go through menopause around 48 years old, which is three years less than women without HIV. They also had higher rates of premature and early menopause.
Researchers also found that hepatitis C and lower education levels increased the chance for early menopause. Where a person was born, and their marital status also plays a role in early menopause.
Menopause is tied to changes in sexual function and mood, decreases one’s quality of life and raises the chances for diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. This is why, researchers say, it’s important doctors, and healthcare professionals help their HIV-positive women understand menopause.
Study investigators looked at the results of 229 postmenopausal women, a study that was put together by University of Toronto Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Nisha Andany.
Other studies have revealed that HIV-positive women were at a higher risk for premature and early menopause. However, researchers feel this is the first study to figure out the average menopause age for HIV patients and the frequency of premature and early menopause.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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