Although you may have a specific plan for your life, your body may have another idea. There is currently no way to predict when you will start menopause. However, scientists are now finding the body gives more clues than originally suspected about how long you are able to have children.
There is no official age at which women start menopause. Generally, it is anywhere between 40 and 60 years old, with the average age in the United States being 51 years old. But approximately one in 100 women start menopause before age 40 and have no way of knowing that’s in their genetic makeup.
Bart Fauser, Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology at University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, says, “Women often postpone having children until their career is well established, but many find it difficult to become pregnant because of declining fertility after the age of 30. Therefore, it would be very useful for women to know well in advance the age gap in which they can expect to remain fertile. This will allow them to try to conceive naturally or to consider egg freezing or IVF treatment at a later date.”
A meta-analysis of 22 European genetic studies involving 39,000 women found about 13 gene variants that were associated with the age of natural menopause and could be used in testing. Further research is needed, but Fauser believes a genetic test for women of all ages will be available within the next five years.
Until then, women can undergo the “egg timer” test, which measures the amount of Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) in a woman’s blood. Many fertility doctors believe AMH levels are a good indicator of how many fertile years a woman has left, while other doctors believe the test is unreliable.
Talk to your doctor about your medical history and desires for future children. Make a plan today to be prepared for tomorrow.