We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

Sponsored By

Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier menopause, fewer pregnancies linked to early onset of progressive MS

Women are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

pexels-freestocksorg-54289.jpg
Researchers also discovered that the fewer pregnancies a woman had, the more likely an earlier onset of progressive MS. Pexels
We are part of The Trust Project.

Women who experience early menopause may be more likely to face an early onset of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) . That is the finding of a Mayo Clinic study recently published in Brain Communications.

Researchers also discovered that the fewer pregnancies a woman had, the more likely an earlier onset of progressive MS. These results highlight the key role sex hormones may play for women with MS.

It is already well-known that multiple sclerosis affects men and women differently. Women are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with MS, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Researchers previously had discovered that women are more likely to developing the relapsing-remitting phase of multiple sclerosis at an earlier age than men, and women have more frequent relapses than men. Meanwhile, men's symptoms tend to worsen faster than women, causing them to enter the progressive phase of the disease more quickly.

Delaying the onset of the progressive phase of MS is important in helping prevent or limit severe disability in the future. That is one of the reasons Mayo Clinic researchers wanted to understand the role women's reproductive histories could play in delaying the onset of progressive MS, says Dr. Burcu Zeydan, a Mayo Clinic researcher and the study's lead author.

The study compared the cases of 137 postmenopausal women with MS seen at Mayo Clinic to 396 postmenopausal women without MS. To identify participants without MS, the researchers relied on the Rochester Epidemiology Project , a unique medical records linkage system, to gather the necessary patient data. They found that women who underwent menopause before 46 were more likely to experience an early onset of progressive MS. Meanwhile, pregnancies appeared to have a positive effect when it came to delaying progressive MS.

ADVERTISEMENT

"There seems to be an association between the number of pregnancies and the onset of progressive MS," Zeydan says. "The higher the number of pregnancies, the later the progressive MS onset."

That is good news for women with MS who may have avoided pregnancy due to concerns about negatively affecting the disease's progression. Indeed, it is the opposite.

Regarding their findings on the association between menopause and progression, Zeydan cautions that more research is needed to truly understand the potential benefits of perimenopausal hormone therapy. But for patients with MS who are already mulling hormone therapy, this study is worth considering.

"Our findings would be another reason to encourage patients to use hormone therapy," Zeydan says.

Related Topics: WELLNESSNEWSMD
What to read next
After Hurricane Ian destroyed her home, a Minnesota woman looks beyond tragedy to find gratitude and compassion for others. Where does one find such resilience? In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams finds there's more to it than just an individual's inner strength.
Town hall on health care in rural Minnesota looks into structural solutions for a looming crisis in outstate hospitals, one that could soon leave small towns struggling to provide the basics of care.
A dog's sense of smell has helped to find missing people, detect drugs at airports and find the tiniest morsel of food dropped from a toddler's highchair. A new study shows that dogs may also be able to sniff out when you're stressed out.
Do you get a little bit cranky after a sleepless night? In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams explores how sleep deprivation can do a lot more damage than just messing with your mornings. It may also make people less willing to help each other.