Huang, X., Sioban D. Harlow, and Michael R. Elliott. 2012. "Distinguishing 6 Population Subgroups by Timing and Characteristics of the Menopausal Transition." American Journal of Epidemiology, 175(1): 74-83.
Changes in women's menstrual bleeding patterns precede the onset of menopause. In this paper, the authors identify population subgroups based on menstrual characteristics of the menopausal transition experience. Using the TREMIN data set (1943-1979), the authors apply a Bayesian change-point model with 8 parameters for each woman that summarize change in menstrual bleeding patterns during the menopausal transition. The authors then use estimates from this model to classify menstrual patterns into subgroups using a K-medoids algorithm. They identify 6 subgroups of women whose transition experience can be distinguished by age at onset, variability of the menstrual cycle, and duration of the early transition. These results suggest that for most women, mean and variance change points are well aligned with proposed bleeding markers of the menopausal transition, but for some women they are not clearly associated. Increasing understanding of population differences in the transition experience may lead to new insights into ovarian aging. Because of age inclusion criteria, most longitudinal studies of the menopausal transition probably include only a subset of the 6 subgroups of women identified in this paper, suggesting a potential bias in the understanding of both the menopausal transition and the linkage between the transition and chronic disease.
PMCID: PMC3276254. (Pub Med Central)
Country of focus: United States.