New Test Predicts Menopause Onset
Women today have a different presence in society than just 40 years ago - in fact, for the first time in modern history, women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce. Fittingly, this also means things have had to change in the household.
The average age of a woman's first pregnancy has been steadily climbing. In the United States, the average age a woman has her first pregnancy has risen from 21 in 1970 to 25 in 2009, and the number of women waiting until after 35 has increased 8 times since then!
Women clearly want more time to establish their careers, but with this delay comes a cost. A woman's fertility peaks from her teens to late 20's and then decreases slowly until menopause. Until now, doctors have only been able to guess when menopause might occur.
How Menopause Works
The onset of menopause is determined by the amount of eggs in a woman's ovaries. At birth, a woman has about 2 million, but on average, that number is down to about 25,000 by the time a woman is 37, at which point decline accelerates.Menopause begins when a women is down to her last 1,000 eggs, too few to produce an egg capable of being fertilized. This happens around age 50 on average. However, menopause can come significantly sooner or later.
Now for about $65, a new test can accurately predict when menopause will occur by measuring the amount of anti-Mullerian hormone in a woman's body.
The anti-Mullerian hormone or AMH is produced when a woman reaches puberty and slowly declines with her fertility. By measuring the concentration in her body, doctors can better advise women and give them a clearer idea of how long they'll have a chance at pregnancy.
Says medical director Peter Illingworth, "I think this is a big step forward.. For a woman who is facing decisions about how active [she] should get about chasing her fertility in one way or another, it's information about what the future may hold for her."
With this knowledge, a doctor can determine the best course of action when a woman is ready to get pregnant - natural conception, in vitro, egg donation, or adoption.
Says feminist advocate Catherine Lumby, "Women across the world are often torn between the demand that they have a career and the demand they populate the planet.. I think it would be fantastic if women get to have this knowledge so they can make choices earlier on."
Sources: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,,26749592-3102,00.html http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/14/health/webmd/main5242339.shtml http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-09-02-womenwork_N.htm http://www.infertilityspecialist.com/age_infertility.html