Menopause News November 19th 2010
Why predicting age of menopause is still a lottery ...
Many women would like to be able to predict when their menopause will happen - but is that just a dream?
An editorial published in Climacteric - a medical journal dedicated to menopause – looked at where science is at the moment with respect to predicting when your menopause will happen (1). And unfortunately there's still a way to go ...
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Predicting menopause age - progress
The news is that women need to be careful of placing too much trust in the tests that are marketed to predict menopause age.
Menopause kits are available that measure follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in the urine and if you get a positive test result with this kit then this may mean you are in your menopausal transition. But FSH levels vary from month to month and can also change depending on the timing of the sample – so the test is not very reliable.
Another kind of kit is one that includes tests for a combination of hormones: FSH, inhibin B and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). But the authors of the Climacteric article warn that although these tests can be used as a signpost, they should not be regarded as definitive. If you use this test and get a positive result, the next step should be a consultation with a physician if you are really concerned about your symptoms or if you need fertility advice.
Currently the most accurate way to see how many eggs are left in your ovaries is an AMH/antral follicle count. This test was first developed for use in the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) process, but recent research shows AMH levels may be helpful in indicating whether you are in or near to your menopause.
But if your menopause age is really important to you - particularly for fertility reasons – then you should be careful about how much you trust these tests. Research has still to test their reliability fully and it's best to check with a qualified physician.
1) Panay N, Fenton A. Can we predict the age of menopause transition? Climacteric 2010;13:507-8.
Published November 19th 2010.