Genetic Test Could Predict Start of Menopause

The average age of menopause is around 51 – give or take a few years either way – but what if you could know exactly when the “change of life” would take place? A new genetic test, which is in the process of being developed, could help women do just that.

A study, done by researchers at the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School and The Institute of Cancer Research in the U.K., tested four genes associated with menopause. They compared 2,000 women from a large U.K. study involving more than 100,000 women called the Breakthrough Generations Study who had experienced early menopause with a matched group of the same number.

And what they found was that the four genes each affected risk of early menopause.

"These findings are the first stage in developing an easy and relatively inexpensive genetic test which could help the one in 20 U.K. women who may be affected by early menopause,” lead scientist Dr. Anna Murray, from the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School, said in a news release.

The findings could ultimately help women in the U.K. and other western countries – where many start having children at a later age – make informed decisions about when to start a family.

"It is estimated that a woman's ability to conceive decreases on average 10 years before she starts the menopause,” Murray said. “Therefore, those who are destined to have an early menopause and delay childbearing until their 30s are more likely to have problems conceiving.”

The findings are published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.