A test based on hormonal changes in the blood may be able to help doctors predict the age at which a woman will eventually experience menopause, scientists claim.
Researchers took blood samples from 293 women, between the ages of 35 and 50, over several years and measured the levels of anti-mullerian hormone, or AMH, which is produced by the ovaries.
Results from the study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that the amount of year-to-year in AMH levels predicted when a woman would go through menopause.
Investigators from the University of Pennsylvania explained that currently, the only way to predict when a woman will enter menopause is by using her age, and while the average age that menopause occurs is 51, women can also enter menopause as early as 40 or in the late 50s, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The latest findings showed that AMH levels explained up to 82 percent of the variability between women, and on average woman whose AMH levels changed the most entered menopause two years earlier than women whose levels changed the least.
"AMH levels have added another indicator," of the age a woman will enter menopause, study author Ellen Freeman, a research professor at the University of Pennsylvania said, according to Live Science.
She said that the new findings are helpful because age is not a wonderfully accurate predictor, it's just an available predictor."
While it has been known that AMH levels decrease as women age and approach menopause, researchers found that combining a woman's age, hormone levels and the degree to which hormone levels were changing provided the most accurate indicator of the age at which a woman will enter menopause.
However, researchers noted that the test may require patients to undergo repeated blood tests over a period of three to five years. Researchers also warned that while the study did show that the blood test predicted the menopause age for groups of women, it may not be as accurate when predicting the menopause age for one individual.
Researchers said that the test is not likely to work in younger women in their mid-30s because AMH levels don't start declining until women are at least that age.