Simple Blood Test To Predict Menopause Age
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28 June 2010
By Jonathan Leake
Procedure To Help Career Women Plan Kids Before They Cease To Be Fertile
Doctors have devised a test that could tell young women the precise age at which they will no longer be able to have babies.
A blood test that measures levels of a hormone produced by the ovaries could allow women as young as 20 to pinpoint within a few months when they will cease to be fertile. The procedure would be valuable to women trying to balance careers with having children. Among western women, menopause occurs on average at 51. However, about 15% of women experience it early, under the age of 45. And in Britain about 110,000 women in their thirties are going through premature menopause at any given time.
Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani, who led the research, said in a scientific abstract: "Our results suggest that the novel marker anti–Mullerian hormone (AMH) (produced by the ovaries) could precisely forecast the age at menopause, even in young women."
Tehrani analysed levels of anti–Mullerian hormone in 266 women aged 20–49. The hormone controls the development of the cells in the ovaries from which eggs develop. It was known that levels of the hormone vary between women and also decline with age. Scientists have suspected that changing levels are linked to the menopause but there has been insufficient data to use this knowledge as a predictive tool. By gathering data from a large number of women, Tehrani believes she has created a mathematical model that can predict the age of menopause for any woman.
The test developed by Tehrani, a senior researcher at the Endocrine Research Centre in Tehran, which is backed by the World Health Organisation, would need to be validated in large–scale trials before it could come into common use.