Twins are more likely to have a premature menopause than other women, according to research published on line today (Wednesday 25 October) in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction .
In a study of more than 800 Australian and UK twin pairs, lead by Dr Roger Gosden, Professor of Reproductive Biology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, premature ovarian failure was between three and five times greater when measured at age 40 and age 45 than in the general population. Ovarian failure before the age of 40 normally affects only around one woman in a hundred.
The finding applied whether or not the twins were identical (monozygotic) or non-identical (dizygotic). It confirms tentative previous data on premature ovarian failure (POF) in non-identical twins, but it is the first time it has been established in identical twins as well.
However, there were twins in the study where the menopausal ages were very different a disparity of more than 20 years in a few cases. It was disparity in menopausal ages among twins that led to this study. First, it was prompted by the recent case of ovarian transplantation between 24-year-old identical twins at the Infertility Center in St. Louis carried out by this study's co-author Dr Sherman Silber. One twin had undergone unexplained POF at age 14, but this was reversed through ovarian tissue transplantation from her sister, and she later conceived. Subsequently, several more identical twin pairs came forward for possible treatment and the researchers received anecdotal information about other cases of disparity in menopausal ages among twins.
"It prompted us to test the hypothesis that POF is more prevalent in identical twins than in the general population," explained Dr Gosden.
They analysed data from 428 twin pairs on the Australian twin register and 404 on the UK twin register who had undergone a natural menopause and compared th
Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology