Predicting the age at natural menopause in middle-aged women
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A new study offers insights into factors that might predict a woman's age at natural menopause. Study results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Knowing when a woman will enter menopause could be valuable for family-planning purposes. Such information also could help to identify those women who are most likely to experience early menopause and be at greater risk for health issues such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and osteoporosis. Another big issue for women is how long they will experience bothersome bleeding, which affects how they choose to manage it.

Previous research in this area has focused on a few predetermined biomarkers. This new study, however, used a comprehensive set of potential predictors to help identify factors affecting age at natural menopause and develop models for pinpointing it.

Researchers in the study concluded that higher levels of estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone, irregular menstrual cycles, and menopause symptoms are strong indicators that a woman is approaching menopause. The study additionally denotes the contributions of life habits and socioeconomic factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, relationship status, physical activity, and the use of hormone contraception, when assessing the time to natural menopause.

Understanding these factors and a woman's overall risk level could help guide clinicians when choosing contraceptive options and treatments for menopause symptoms.