Country of birth, country of residence, and menopausal transitions and symptoms: British birth cohort and Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2004 Apr;28(2):144-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2004.tb00928.x.


Objective: To explore endocrine-related and general symptoms among three groups of middle-aged women defined by country of birth and country of residence, in the context of debates about biological, cultural and other factors in menopause.

Methods: British-born women participating in a British birth cohort study (n=1,362) and age-matched Australian-born (n=1,724) and British-born (n=233) Australian women selected from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) responded to two waves of surveys at ages 48 and 50.

Results: Australian-Australian and British-Australian women report reaching menopause later than British-British women, even after accounting for smoking status and parity. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use was lower and hysterectomy was more common among both Australian groups, probably reflecting differences in health services between Britain and Australia. The Australian-Australian and British-Australian groups were more likely to report endocrine-related symptoms than the British-British group, even after adjusting for menopausal status. British-British women were more likely to report some general symptoms.

Conclusions: Symptom reporting is high among Australian and British midlife women and varies by country of residence, country of birth and menopausal status.

Implications: The data do not support either a simple cultural or a simple biological explanation for differences in menopause experience.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health*