We hypothesized that natural menopause would be related to better physical functioning compared with surgical menopause and that later age at menopause would be related to better physical functioning.
Our sample comprised 1,765 women 60 years or older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, a cross-sectional study representative of the US population. Women recalled age at final menstrual period and age at removal of the uterus and ovaries and reported age, race and ethnicity, height, weight, educational attainment, smoking status, number of children, and use of estrogen therapy. Respondents completed a walk trial and chair rises and reported functional limitations.
Women with surgical menopause had chair rise times that were an average of 4.4% slower than did those of women with natural menopause (95% CI, 0.56-8.27). Women with natural menopause at age 55 years or more had an average walking speed of 0.05 meters/second (95% CI, 0.01-0.10) faster than did women with natural menopause at age less than 45 years. Later ages at natural and surgical menopause were also related to lower self-reported functional limitation. Women with surgical menopause at age 55 years or more had odds of functional limitation 0.52 times (95% CI, 0.29-0.95) that of women with surgical menopause at age less than 40 years, with similar patterns for natural menopause.
Women with surgical menopause and earlier age at menopause had worse physical function in older adulthood. These groups of women may benefit from interventions to prevent functional decline.