Irregular or Extra Long Periods May Portend a Shorter Life Span


Irregular or Extra Long Periods May Portend a Shorter Life Span

Philadelphia, PA– Abnormal menstrual cycle characteristics- irregularity and extra-long cycle length- are associated with greater risk of mortality according to a study presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s 75th Scientific Congress and Expo.  In a prospective cohort study, researchers from Harvard and Tongji Medical College in China teamed up to analyze data on 93,775 women, followed for the years 1991 to 2013 as part of the Nurses Health Study II.

Participants described the history of their menstrual cycles for the study, reporting the usual length and regularity of their cycles at ages 14 to 17, 18-22, and 28-48. The women had no history of cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease at enrollment.

Researchers used statistical methods to determine associations between cycle characteristics and mortality, accounting for relevant confounders including BMI, race/ethnicity, physical activity and lifestyle factors.

During 1,729,410 person years of follow-up, 1679 deaths were recorded including 828 from cancer and 166 from cardiovascular disease.

Women whose menstrual cycles were always irregular between the ages of 14 and 17 and 18 to 22 were 21% and 34% respectively more likely to die from any cause than women reporting very regular menstrual cycles in the same age ranges. A similar association was seen in women with irregular menstrual cycles from age 28 to 48. Women reporting cycle lengths of 32-39 days, or more than 40 days, were also at greater risk of death during follow-up than women whose usual cycles lasted 26-31 days.

ASRM Vice President Hugh Taylor, MD observed, “Irregular cycling could be evidence of an underlying health condition.  But these clues are subtle and may not, in themselves, cause much worry. Patients who experience menstrual irregularity should be advised to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be alert to health changes.”


O-272 Wang et al, “Menstrual Cycle Regularity and Length and Risk of Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study”


ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. The Society accomplishes its mission through the pursuit of excellence in education and research and through advocacy on behalf of patients, physicians, and affiliated health care providers. The Society is committed to facilitating and sponsoring educational activities for the lay public and continuing medical education activities for professionals who are engaged in the practice of and research in reproductive medicine.