Hormone May Predict Age at Menopause
Researchers Say Anti-Mullerian Hormone Levels May Be Accurate Predictor of Menopause Age
WebMD News Archive
April 30, 2008 -- A hormone that is used to help assess the potential for
pregnancy in assisted reproduction might prove to be an accurate predictor of a
woman's age at menopause, a study shows.
If early findings are confirmed, researchers say anti-Mullerian hormone
(AMH) levels may predict age at menopause within one or two years in women as
young as age 30.
Researcher Jeroem van Disseldorp, MD, tells WebMD that the early study shows
the hormone to be a more sensitive predictor of age at menopause than
chronological age alone.
Van Disseldorp and colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht in the
Netherlands developed a predictive model based on AMH levels in fertile
The next step is to see if the women actually reach menopause when the model
says they will.
"Right now it looks like AMH is quite sensitive for determining a
woman's age at menopause within one or two years," van Disseldorp says.
"But we can't say this with certainty yet."
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AMH and Menopause
Anti-Mullerian hormone is undetectable in girls until they reach puberty,
and after that levels of the hormone appear to increase until around the age of
AMH levels in the blood reflect the number of small follicles present in a
woman's ovaries. These follicles enable reproduction by ensuring monthly
Low levels of AMH in the blood are indicative of poor ovarian reserve.
Because of this, AMH measurement is increasingly being done in women seeking
medical treatment for infertility.
The hormone may prove to be an even more useful marker of fertility in this
setting than the most widely used assessment, follicle-stimulating hormone
(FSH), because unlike FSH, AMH levels do not appear to fluctuate with the
In an effort to examine the hormone's potential as an early predictor of
menopause, van Disseldorp and colleagues measured AMH levels in 144 healthy,
fertile women between the ages of 25 and 45, and the researchers used this
information to estimate the change in mean levels of the hormone with age.
Based on these findings, the researchers then estimated the distribution of
the age at menopause in a group of 3,384 postmenopausal women between the ages
of 50 and 70.
These data were used to develop a model which showed AMH to be a sensitive
predictor of menopause for women in their 30s and older, with the possible
exception of women who experience menopause much earlier (age 41 or younger) or
later (age 57 or older) than normal.
The researchers plan to follow the older, but still fertile women in the
study to see if their predicted and actual ages at menopause are the same.
Understanding a Woman's Biological Clock
If the model proves accurate, AMH may one day help women as young as their
early 30s better understand their personal biological clocks.
"This would be a better indicator than chronological age, which is what
we use now," van Disseldorp says.
But Columbia University menopause researcher Michelle Warren, MD, remains
skeptical about the hormone's potential for predicting age at menopause in
Warren is director of the Columbia University Center for Menopause, Hormonal
Disorders and Women's Health.
"That remains to be seen," she says. "AMH is finding a place in
the evaluation of women seeking treatment for infertility, but we can't say
much more than that until more research is done."