Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Population Research Discovery Seminars

Psychological Stress and Accelerated Reproductive Aging over the Life Course: Implications for Health and Disease in Women

Maria Bleil, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Child Nursing, School of Nursing, UW

02/15/2019
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

A woman’s reproductive life span is anchored around two principal events: puberty and menopause. Despite parallels in the psychosocial antecedents and health outcomes of earlier versus later pubertal and menopausal timing, to date, little work has attempted to integrate study findings from these largely disparate literatures. Moreover, although menarche occurs on average at age 12.5 years and the cessation of menses on average at age 51 years, little work has attempted to address whether the same psychosocial antecedents and health outcomes are present in relation to variability in the loss of ovarian function termed “ovarian aging” occurring over the nearly 40-year period of pre-menopause in-between. Recent methodological advances in the measurement of ovarian aging as indexed by biomarkers of total ovarian reserve have made possible the opportunity to bridge these literatures by considering whether there is continuity in the antecedents and outcomes of ovarian aging over the life course and, if so, how this may inform intervention efforts—especially in early life—to preserve fertility, and, thereby, enhance associated health outcomes in women. The current talk will provide an integrated review of these literatures, generating hypotheses regarding the significance of early life experiences in setting the stage for concomitant trajectories of ovarian aging and health over time.


Dr. Bleil’s work takes a life course perspective in studying how individual- and environmental-level factors affect the timing and course of major reproductive events such as puberty and menopause as well as how such events shape trajectories of risk for chronic disease development, especially related to cardiovascular disease. Her work has strong implications for interventions targeting children and young women to more effectively prevent/manage disease risk in early life.