LOS ANGELES - 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.
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 hormone concentrations tested.
Researchers derived a statistical model to predict approximate menopause age from a single measurement of anti-Mullerian hormone concentration in blood serum. As 63 of the women reached menopause, researchers were able to 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.
Tehrani, president of the reproductive endocrinology department of the Endocrine Research Centre in Tehran and an associate professor at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences there, added: "We believe that our estimates of ages at menopause based on AMH [anti-Mullerian hormone] levels are of sufficient validity . . . so that they [doctors] can help women with their family planning."
Tehrani presented the findings of the study yesterday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome.