Menstruation and menopause in autistic adults: Periods of importance?

Autism. 2022 Aug;26(6):1563-1572. doi: 10.1177/13623613211059721. Epub 2021 Nov 26.


Autism spectrum conditions were once seen as a predominantly male condition, but this has caused research to have little focus on women. Therefore, little is known about menstruation and menopause in autism spectrum conditions. Some smaller studies indicate that autistic individuals might suffer from increased difficulties surrounding these events. This study aimed to investigate whether autistic women experience more frequent premenstrual dysphoric disorder, causing extreme physical, emotional, and functional impairment. In a partly overlapping sample, we also examined whether women with autism spectrum condition experience increased complaints surrounding menopause. We did not find an increased prevalence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in autism spectrum conditions (14.3%) compared with non-autistic women (9.5%). Those with autism spectrum conditions did experience increased menopausal complaints. These menopausal complaints were associated with higher levels of depression and autistic traits. In non-autistic women, menopausal complaints were associated with increased inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity (i.e. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder traits), and depression. With this work, we show the important role that major reproductive milestones can have in an autistic woman's life.

Keywords: adults; autism spectrum disorders; menopause; menstruation; women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menopause
  • Menstruation
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder*