Association of lifetime lactation and age at natural menopause: a prospective cohort study

Menopause. 2022 Oct 1;29(10):1161-1167. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000002046. Epub 2022 Sep 6.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the association between duration of lifetime lactation and age at natural menopause.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study, we analyzed parous premenopausal women in the multiethnic Study of Women's Health Across the Nation who were followed approximately annually for 10 years (1995-2008). Lifetime lactation was defined as the duration of breastfeeding across all births in months. Age at natural menopause was defined as age in years after 12 consecutive months of amenorrhea after the final menstrual period for no other reported cause. We used Cox proportional hazard models to analyze time to natural menopause with age as the underlying time scale. Multivariable models controlled for education, race/ethnicity, parity, smoking, body mass index, and oral contraceptive use.

Results: Among 2,377 women, 52.6% experienced natural menopause during follow-up and reported a valid final menstrual period date. The small, crude association between lifetime lactation up to 24 months and later age at natural menopause attenuated to nonsignificance in adjusted models (6 months: adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 0.96; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.87-1.06; 12 months: AHR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.82-1.11; 18 months: AHR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.82-1.13; 24 months: AHR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.84-1.16).

Conclusions: Duration of lifetime lactation was not associated with age at natural menopause after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lactation
  • Menopause*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Contraceptives, Oral