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Blood test predicts menopause

29th June 2010

There is a simple blood test that can tell people when a woman will have her menopause, according to a recent Iranian study.

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The researchers said that they had developed a way of predicting menopause, allowing women to plan their lives.

The test measures levels of ovarian hormones, and tends to vary by only four months from the actual time of menopause.

Ramezani Tehrani, of the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, said that the finding could help people make realistic assessments of female reproductive status.

Dagan Wells, of the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Oxford University, who was not involved in the study, said that the possibility of predicting menopause was very exciting.

The average age for menopause is 51, though some women may stop ovulating as late as age 60 or as early as age 40.

The test will be useful for women who want to work on their careers before having children, since such women often do not know how long they should postpone giving birth.

For the recent study, the researchers took blood samples from 266 women in 1998.

All of the subjects were between the ages of 20 and 49.

Over a three-year period, the researchers measured blood levels of a hormone known as the anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) produced by the women's cells.

AMH controls follicle development in female ovaries.

The researchers also collected relevant statistical information from the women, such as whether or not they had any children.

Tehrani said that her team developed a statistical model for estimating women's age at menopause from a single measurement of AMH concentration.

She said that, using the AMH concentration as a model, the researchers estimated mean average ages at menopause for women, and that his team was able to predict the actual menopause of 63 study subjects.

Of the 63 cases, the maximum error made by the prediction algorithm was four years.

However, most of the cases were correct to within several months.

Women in their twenties who have up to 4.1 nanograms per millilitre of AMH in their blood sample will probably have an early menopause.

Women whose AMH blood levels are at least 4.5 nanograms per millilitre will probably not have menopause until after the age of 50.

Wells said that he believed the Iranian team had found a fairly accurate algorithm, though women who cease monthly ovulation and experience menopause at 50 had probably already been effectively infertile for several years.

He said that it would be important for researchers to find a way of letting women know when they would cease to be fertile.

Other experts said that the finding would need to be confirmed in further trials, though the results were promising.

 

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Article Information

Title: Blood test predicts menopause
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 15329
Date Added: 29th Jun 2010

Sources

BBC News

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