About one in five women residing in India are likely to experience menopause by the age of 41, according to a study conducted by Bangalore, India-based Institute for Social and Economic Change, London's Times reports.
According to the Times, the onset of menopause usually begins between ages 45 and 55, with a worldwide average of 51. Premature menopause is the end of menstruation before age 40 and affects about 1% of women worldwide. For the study, T. S. Syamala and M. Sivakami of ISEC used data from the National Family Health Survey, conducted in 1988 and 1999, which examined about 90,000 married women ages 15 to 49 across 26 Indian states. The study found that 3.1% of women living in India became menopausal between ages 30 and 34, 8% of women experienced menopause by age 39 and 19% of were menopausal by age 41. The average menopausal age in India is 44.3 years. The study found that premature menopause was most common in rural areas, as well as among agricultural workers, women who were illiterate and women who had a low body mass index. According to the Times, malnutrition and poverty are believed to be contributing factors to premature menopause; however, the study did not address the causes. The results are "significant because most health programs in India focus on women of reproductive age," Syamala said, adding, "It is high time that we started to focus on post-menopausal women because of increasing life expectancy in India and because of the health risks associated with premature menopause." Some health experts questioned the study's methods and conclusions and called for more research into the issue (Page, Times, 1/23).
USAID's Innovations in Family Planning Services on Wednesday is scheduled to launch a voucher system that will provide no-cost family planning and reproductive services to poor women in India, the Times of India reports. The program, which will be launched in Uttar Pradesh, India, plans to provide women a voucher that will give them access to no-cost prenatal and postnatal care, institutional deliveries, sterilizations and contraceptives. Ten hospitals have been accredited to accept the vouchers and provide the services, and 720 accredited social health advocates have been recruited to implement the program and identify eligible families. Families without vouchers can also receive no-cost services after authenticating their economic position from a village official, according to the Times of India. The program aims to provide services to about 8,000 women over the next two years (Sinha, Times of India, 1/23).