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Monday, 28 June 2010 02:25

Scientists think they can better predict menopause


Scientists in Iran have announced that they have developed a simple blood test to better predict when women will enter menopause.


Menopause is defined as a woman's last menstrual period (or, the permanent end of her ovarian function and the end of her fertile phase), which is currently confirmed after one year in which menstrual periods do not occur. But, a better way is on the horizon.

Dr. Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani led the study that ran from 1998 to the present. The results of the study will be presented on Monday, June 28, 2010, at a fertility conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), being held in Rome, Italy, between June 27 and 30, 2010.

Tehrani, an associate professor at Shahid Beheshti University (SBU) of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran, states that his team has developed a blood test that predict the end of fertility many years before menopause occurs in women.

The Tehrani team claims that some day the test could help women decide to have children before it is too late for them.

Women generally begin to lose their fertility (their eggs begin to run out), or their ability to have children, about one decade before menopause. Thus, the simple blood test could help women nearing the end of their fertility phase to learn that they have only a few years left to naturally produce children.

Currently used tests and medical scans only give women a few years of notice that they are about to run out of eggs.

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The Iranian team took blood samples from 266 women, from 20 to 40 years of age, and measured the amount of anti-Mullerian Hormone, or AMH, in their bodies.

AMH is one of several methods used by doctors to predict how many eggs are left in the ovaries of women. For instance, doctors also commonly measure follicle stimulating hormone or estrogen.

They then took two additional samples of blood over the next six years, while also giving each woman physical examinations, such as taking down their reproductive history and socioeconomic background.

The team then used a mathematical mode using an algorithml to estimate, based on the data, when the women would go into menopause.

Sixty-three women went through menopause during the study (which occurred over twelve years, as of 2010). Of that number, the team accurately predicted the time of menopause within three to four months.

On average, the women reached menopause at the age of 52 years. Generally, women end ovulation between the ages of 40 and 60 years. These twenty years of range, thus, makes it difficult for women, trying to balance career and family, to know when they will no longer be able to have children.

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Dr. Tehrani explains, "We developed a statistical model for estimating the age at menopause from a single measurement of AMH concentration. Using this model, we estimated mean average ages at menopause for women at different time points in their reproductive life span." [Reuters (6-27-2010): 'Scientists find way to predict timing of menopause']

And, within the June 27, 2010 Associated Press article 'Scientists say test could predict menopause,' Dr. Tehrani, states, "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.'

With further analysis of this blood test, and scientific proof that it works through additional studies, it has the potential for giving more control to women as to when to begin a family, and now long to wait before having children.



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