Predicting when women will reach menopause has never been an accurate science, but a new study suggests it could become considerably more precise. Researchers have found that concentrations of a specific hormone can be assessed in a blood test, providing a fairly precise forecast.
The hormone in question is the anti-Mullerian hormone, which is produced by cells in ovarian follicles and controls the development of those follicles. Blood samples were taken three times from 266 women ages 20 to 49, and concentrations of the hormone were tested.
Researchers derived a statistical model to predict approximate menopause age from a single measurement of AMH concentration in blood serum. Since 63 of the participants reached menopause during the study, they had something to which they could compare those predictions.
"The average difference between the predicted age at menopause using our model and the women's actual age was only a third of a year and the maximum margin of error for our model was only three to four years," said Dr. Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani, co-author of the study, in a news release.
Tehrani, president of the reproductive endocrinology department of the Endocrine Research Centre and an associate professor at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, added, "The results from our study could enable us to make a more realistic assessment of women's reproductive status many years before they reach menopause... We believe that our estimates of ages at menopause based on AMH levels are of sufficient validity to guide medical practitioners in their day-to-day practice, so that they can help women with their family planning."
Tehrani presents the findings of the study Monday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome.
-- Jeannine Stein
Photo credit: Los Angeles Times