Women who have a twin are up to five times more likely to suffer a premature menopause than those without, new research has shown.
A study of more than 1,600 Australian and UK twins found the women had a significantly increased risk of premature ovarian failure (POF).
The condition causes the ovaries to shut down a decade or more earlier than they should.
Twins taking part in the research were between three and five times more likely to have suffered POF by the age of 40 than women from the general population.
Ovarian failure in the under-40s normally affects only one woman in 100.
Professor Roger Gosden, of Cornell University, New York, who led the investigation, said: “Our study validates the hypothesis that twins have a statistically significantly higher prevalence of POF than women generally. “The differences were large, at three to five-fold at both the 40 and 45-year threshold, and were similar in both the national registers.”
Scientists in the US analysed data from 404 UK and 428 Australian twin-pairs who had undergone a natural menopause and compared this to a control group of 3,483 Dutch women recruited for a breast-screening programme. Most of the control group had reached the menopause in their early 50s.
Despite the increased risk, the chances of twins having a premature menopause are still three to five in 100.