Sunday, November 2, 2008

Test predicts when menopause will begin

The Daily Telegraph

Biological clock
Tick tock ... new tests could tell women how many years they are away from menopause, offering them a 'roadmap' to their reproductive life.
NEW tests could tell women how many years they are away from menopause, offering them a "roadmap" to their reproductive life.

For the first time, overseas scientists believe they have developed a blueprint to accurately predict when a woman's reproductive cycle is likely to end by testing hormone levels in blood.

But Australian experts yesterday said the test gave "false hope".

They said there was still no conclusive way of measuring when a woman would begin menopause.

The University of Michigan studied changes in hormones FSH and inhibin B, which stimulate eggs, in more than 600 women over 14 years.

It found hormones dropped significantly five years before menopause, meaning she was also at her least fertile.

Scientists also tested another 50 women each year for changes in the hormone AMH, which is already used as a predictor of fertility.

Researcher Maryfran Sowers said the results could help women choosing to have later-in-life babies.

"The information provides a roadmap as to how fast women are progressing through the different elements of their reproductive life," Ms Sowers said yesterday.

"We finally have numbers from enough women evaluated over a long time period to describe the reproductive ageing process."

The hormone AMH fell to a very low or non-measurable level five years prior to the final menstrual period.

But IVF Australia chairman Michael Chapman said doctors already used a similar test measuring AMH to predict a woman's fertility.

"The measurement of these hormones has been done for the last 10 years," he said. "We have recognised that AMH is a marker of predicting the number of eggs in ovaries.

"Our experience is, it might be that the ovaries are running short of eggs but it doesn't mean that menopause is due to start in the next one or five years. Menopause could still be years off."

Similar studies have been conducted in Australia but are yet to produce conclusive results.

Mother-of-two Jodie Earnshaw, 39, said a test to predict menopause would help women make choices. "I think a test like this would be good for women aged in their early 30s," she said.

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