Do Your Genes Mean Early Menopause?
Some women will experience an early menopause and there are a number of reasons why this may occur. While we clearly know about a number of these reasons such as a hysterectomy, researchers continue to investigate why some otherwise healthy women seem to experience an early menopause.
If successful, we may have a new way to predict a woman’s fertility lifespan. Many women today delay family planning because their younger years are focused on partnerships and career.
We can also help women reduce the effects of menopause. These include osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and many other heightened risks that come with early menopause.
Who Experiences Early Menopause?Approximately one in twenty women will begin menopause before the age of forty-six. This can affect their ability to conceive a child – with effects occurring even a decade before they reach menopause. For instance, even though she can become pregnant, her fertility can still be in decline ten years before reaching menopause. This makes it significantly more challenging to conceive.
Depleted Ovarian ReservesTypically, menopause starts when a woman’s remaining eggs decline to less than one thousand. Yet, the biological basis for why her ovarian egg reserve depletes is still not completely clear. Numerous theories abound but this new gene study helps shed light on the reasons why a woman will undergo early menopause.
Genes and Early MenopauseOne reason a woman may experience an early menopause could lie in a combination of four genes. Scientists conducted a recent study to see how much of a role genes may play in triggering early menopause. They found that there are four genes, all of which work together to raise a woman’s risk of experiencing early menopause.
In this study, approximately two thousand women who had undergone an early menopause were compared to a similar number of women who experienced menopause at the average, expected age. It was found that the four genes seemed to affect the onset of menopause.
Each Gene Raises the RiskIf more than one of these genes was present in the woman, then she had an even higher risk of experiencing an early menopause. From here, it is thought that we could potentially develop a simple, cost-effective way of performing gene testing that identifies the one woman in twenty who will experience an early menopause. A woman can then make the best, informed choice about how to approach her future fertility and family planning.
Other Tests to Potentially Predict MenopauseThis recent study is not the first to look for a way to predict menopause. Another one investigated whether an ultrasound could determine how many eggs are left in a woman’s ovary. The hope was that it could then be assessed how fast this number of eggs was declining. Another research study looked at how measuring a specific hormone every three years could predict an early menopause. Neither of the two studies, however, has resulted in a definitive test just yet.
Family Planning and Early MenopauseIdeally, the various potential tests can eventually help us to find out which women are at risk of early menopause. This could make a significant difference in helping a woman to make the right family planning decisions.
With more women postponing family planning to the thirties and beyond, the consequences of such a test would be enormously beneficial. It would also mean a woman can take the right steps early on to protect her health and treat menopause signs and symptoms.