New York: Researchers have discovered that changes in a hormone may help them guess the age at which a woman will experience menopause.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that measuring year-to-year change in anti-mullerian hormone or AMH, which is produced by the ovaries, could predict when a woman will experience menopause, MyHealthNewsDaily reported.
Researchers studied 293 women in their 30s and 40s, taking blood samples over several years to measure their levels of AMH.
Currently, the only way to estimate when a woman will enter menopause is by using her age the average age that menopause occurs is 51, but women can also experience the change in their 40s or late 50s, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The new study showed that AMH levels explained nearly 82 percent of the variability between women.
Additionally, the researchers found that the women whose AMH levels changed the most reached menopause two years earlier on average, compared with women whose levels changed the least.
"AMH levels have added another indicator of the age menopause will begin. This is helpful because age is not a wonderfully accurate predictor, it`s just an available predictor," study author Ellen Freeman, said.
The women in the study underwent blood tests every nine months for five years, and researchers followed them for up to 14 years later to see when they actually entered menopause.
It was known that AMH levels decrease as women age and approach menopause. The researchers found that combining a woman`s age, hormone levels and the extent to which hormone levels were changing provided the most accurate indicator of the age at which she`d begin menopause.
Predicting how far a woman is from entering menopause could be useful to women with fertility problems, and those facing an increased risk of other health issues that may be affected by menopause, such as osteoporosis or heart disease, Freeman was quoted as saying by the website.
"The test is not likely to work in women younger than their mid-30s, because AMH levels don`t start declining until women are at least that age," Freeman said.
The youngest women in the study were 35.
The study was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.