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Test Could Predict Start of Menopause


Would you want to know when your menopause will start? If things go as planned, researchers hope to eventually develop a genetic test that could predict when women will go through menopause. Right now, they have discovered the genes that are associated with this change of life.

A genetic test could pinpoint start of menopause

For many women, knowing when menopause will begin could help them with family planning. Although the average age women begin menopause is around age 51, some say goodbye to menstruation in their forties. This may pose a dilemma for some women.

According to Early Menopause: The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health, menopause that begins before age 40 is called “premature menopause,” while menopause between the age of 40 and 45 is termed “early menopause.” The condition may occur as the result of early failure of the ovaries, because of chemotherapy treatment, or in women who have had their ovaries removed.

“It is estimated that a woman’s ability to conceive decreases on average 10 years before she starts the menopause,” according to study leader Dr. Anna Murray from the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School. Women who want to have children and who know when they are likely to start menopause could then better plan for children, notes Murray in the UK Telegraph.

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Currently there are tests that can identify when menopause will begin, but they only work two or three years before women start their change. Murray and her team believe their findings “are the first stage in developing an easy and relatively inexpensive genetic test which could help the one in 20 women who may be affected by early menopause.”

The new genetic test, which women could take in their twenties and which will be able to predict within five years when women will go through menopause, is expected to be available within 10 years. While this is too long a wait for women who are already in their thirties and forties, it may be helpful for the next generation.

The researchers conducted DNA tests and discovered four genes that double the chance of early menopause. It is generally believed that risk factors for early menopause include lifestyle and diet, but that genes make up 50 percent of the risk. Women with genes that indicate a high risk can make lifestyle and dietary adjustments to counterbalance the genetic risk.

A test that could predict the start of menopause could serve as a valuable tool for women to make decisions about their fertility and planning for children. As more and more women put off starting a family, the utility of such a test becomes even more important.

Early Menopause: The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health
UK Telegraph