Could doctors one day use a blood test to predict decades in advance when women will go into menopause? Research to be presented at a European fertility conference in Rome could be a first step toward developing a tool to help women decide when they can expect to become menopausal. Fertility specialists are particularly interested in the study.
The test does not predict when women will lose their fertility – which typically occurs about a decade before menopause – but if doctors know when women will go into menopause, they can calculate roughly when they will run out of eggs. Scientists say the test could be especially helpful in identifying women who might go into menopause early – in their late 40s or earlier instead of their mid-50s.
At the moment, there are few clues for doctors to tell which young women may be headed for early menopause. Blood tests and ovary scans only give women a few years’ advance notice. Doctors have used measurements of the amount of anti-Mullerian Hormone, or AMH, in women to help them tell how many eggs there are left in the ovaries in women as they get older to help evaluate fertility.
In the study scientist measured the amount of AMH present and used a mathematical model to estimate when women would go into menopause. The study found that the scientist were able to predict when women would become menopausal within four months of the documented date.
“If our model is validated, then women in their 20s could take a blood test and we could provide them with a good estimate of what her age will be at menopause,” said Dr. Ramezani Tehrani, an associate professor at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, who led the study. Further Studies are ongoing.
“It will be extremely valuable to be able to tell women how fast their biological clock is ticking,” he said. “But people will be making extremely important decisions based on this, so we need to have all the data first.”
J. Kyle Mathews, MD