Ain’t no Wednesday Bubble: tick tock, part 2: the menopause blood test

Posted by on Jun 30, 2010 in fertility, menopause | 0 comments

I don’t usually  interrupt our regularly scheduled Wednesday Bubble but this one’s pretty hot off the presses. Researchers have once again confirmed that concentrations of the anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH – a protein produced by cells in the ovary and controls follicle development) can help predict when a woman will develop menopause .

I wrote about AMH levels being used in this fashion in a post last year, so this current study simply helps to support the hypothesis that science is gaining ground in the fertility/post-fertility arena. Similar to previous studies, researchers collected blood samples from 266 women between the ages of 20 and 49, thereafter, measuring AMH levels. Additional blood samples were taken at three  yearly intervals, along with information about participants’ socioeconomic status and reproductive histories. The women also had physical exams every three years. The researchers then developed a mathematical model that would enable them to predict  average age of menopause based on varying levels of AMH throughout the reproductive years, and compared these estimates to age at actual menopause in a subgroup of 63 women.

Presenting the findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction meeting this past Monday, researchers say that they were able to predict actual age of menopause within a margin of error of only three to four years. Moreover, certain AMH levels at certain years of age could accurately predict whether or not a woman was likely to start menopause early, before age 45 or at a more common age, e.g. over age 50.

If AMH is confirmed as a marker in further testing, the researchers say that a blood test could help women start family planning early in their reproductive life. As I wrote previously, it could also be used as a strategy to start effective interventions geared towards ameliorating menopausal symptoms and age-related diseases at specific points in a woman’s life. However, the potential of such a test is not without the negative. I wonder if a blood test that accurately predicts menopause could be used against a woman trying to obtain insurance for a pregnancy gone wrong due to age at which she “should have conceived.” Only time can tell the risks and benefits of such a test. In the interim, it seems that science is well on its way to controlling the tick tock of every woman’s biological clock.

What do you think?

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