Women's health

Blood test may predict menopause

Blood test may predict menopause Measures AMH hormone

A simple blood test which can accurately predict the age when women will hit the menopause may soon be a reality.

This means that young adult women will be able to know from an early age when the menopause is likely to occur, so they can plan what is the best time for them to start a family.

The blood test measures the amount of a hormone produced by cells in a woman's ovaries, called anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH).

The hormone controls the development of follicles in the ovaries, from which eggs develop, so it has been suggested that AMH could indicate how well the ovaries are functioning.

Researchers tested blood samples from 266 Iranian women, aged between 20 and 49 at the start of the study for AMH, and then again every three years.

Information was also collected on their reproductive history, age at which the menopause occurred and socioeconomic background.

The combined information allowed the researchers to work out a statistical model which estimated the age at which the menopause occurred using a single blood sample.

The researchers said their was a "good level of agreement" between the predicted and woman's actual age at which the menopause occurred during the study.

On average, the difference between the predicted and actual age at which the women started the menopause was around four months. And the maximum margin of error was three to four years.

The findings are to be presented to-day at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference being held in Rome.

Lead author Dr Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani, an associate professor of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran said: "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.

"Our findings indicate that AMH is capable of specifying a woman's reproductive status more realistically than chronological age per se."

She also added that larger studies were needed to confirm the results, and to find out whether the blood test can predict the menopause in younger women as well.

This article was published on Mon 28 June 2010

Image © Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com

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