Early menopause and premature ovarian insufficiency may increase the risk of sarcopenia: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Maturitas. 2023 Sep:175:107782. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2023.05.006. Epub 2023 Jun 7.


Purpose: Menopausal transition, resulting from a decline in estrogen concentrations, may compromise musculoskeletal health. However, it is unclear if early menopause (defined as age at menopause <45 years) and premature ovarian insufficiency (defined as age at menopause <40 years) are associated with increased risk of sarcopenia. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to synthesize studies evaluating the association between age at menopause and risk of sarcopenia.

Methods: A comprehensive search was conducted in PubMed, CENTRAL and Scopus, up to 31 December 2022. Data were expressed as standardized mean difference with 95 % confidence intervals. The I2 index was employed to evaluate heterogeneity.

Results: Six studies were included in the qualitative and quantitative analysis, with a total of 18,291 post-menopausal women. Compared with women of normal age at menopause (>45 years), women with early menopause demonstrated lower muscle mass, assessed by appendicular skeletal muscle mass/body mass index [standardized mean difference (SMD) -0.14, 95 % confidence interval (CI) -0.20 to -0.07, p < 0.001; I2 0%]. However, no differences in muscle strength, assessed by handgrip strength (SMD -0.15, 95 % CI -0.31 to 0.01, p = 0.071; I2 72%), and muscle performance, assessed by gait speed (SMD -0.11, 95 % CI -0.29 to 0.05, p = 0.18; I2 79%), were found. Women with premature ovarian insufficiency had lower handgrip strength (SMD -0.3, 95 % CI -0.58 to -0.01, p = 0.04; I2 74.6 %) and gait speed (SMD -0.13, 95 % CI -0.23 to -0.04, p = 0.004; I2 0%) compared with women of normal age at menopause.

Conclusion: Early menopause is associated with reduced muscle mass and premature ovarian insufficiency with reduced muscle strength and performance compared with normal age at menopause.

Keywords: Early menopause; Muscle mass; Muscle performance; Muscle strength; Premature ovarian insufficiency; Sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Menopause, Premature*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency* / complications
  • Sarcopenia* / complications