A test to predict menopause?

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It’s a discovery that could be even more revolutionary than the Pill: a blood test that can predict decades in advance when women will hit menopause.

Doctors in Israel report a preliminary study that could someday help create such a test; the research will be presented on Monday at a European fertility conference in Rome, the AP reports:

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.

“This is not something we could start rolling out tomorrow,” said William Ledger, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, who was not linked to the research. “But if it really does work, it could be immensely useful to young women who are making choices about whether to work or have a family.”

Over the six-year study, scientists periodically measured blood levels of anti-Mullerian Hormone, or AMH, in 266 women between the ages of 20 and 40. The hormone tells doctors how many eggs are left in the ovaries. Based on the amount of AMH the women had, scientists estimated when they would go into menopause. Of the 63 women in the study who entered menopause, the researchers said their predictions were accurate to within four months.

Read the entire AP story here.