Frequency of premature menopause in women who carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation

Women who carry a BRCA mutation experience menopause earlier, on average, than women who do not have a mutation, but the difference does not appear to affect fertility.

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Amy Finch, Ph.D., Adriana Valentini, M.D., Ellen Greenblatt, M.D., Henry T. Lynch, M.D., Parviz Ghadirian, Ph.D., Susan Armel, M.S., Susan L. Neuhausen, M.D., Charmaine Kim-Sing, M.D., Nadine Tung, M.D., Beth Karlan, M.D., William D. Foulkes, Ph.D., Ping Sun, Ph.D., Steven Narod, M.D., members of the Hereditary Breast Cancer Study Group

Volume 99, Issue 6, Pages 1724-1728, May 2013



To evaluate the impact of carrying of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation on the probability of experiencing premature natural menopause.


Observational study.


Patients in an academic research environment.


Women who carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (case subjects) and women who do not carry a mutation (control subjects).


Survey about reproductive history administered upon study entry and every 2 years thereafter.

Main Outcome Measures:

The impact of carrying a BRCA mutation on age at menopause and other factors including parity, age at first birth, age at last birth and self-reported fertility.


A total of 908 matched pairs were identified. The mean age at natural menopause was 48.8 years for BRCA1 carriers, 49.2 years for BRCA2 carriers and 50.3 years for controls. Women who carry a BRCA mutation have similar parity to non-carriers and were as likely as non-carriers to have a child after age 35. Similar proportions reported a history of fertility problems (12.5% vs. 13.7%) and use of fertility medication (6.0% vs. 7.0%).


Women who carry a BRCA mutation experience menopause earlier, on average, than women who do not have a mutation, but the difference is small and does not appear to impact on fertility.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.