Predicting the onset of menopause can help women better prepare for this phase of life. Thankfully, researchers from the Jyväskylä University want to make this possible.
Usually, menopause occurs naturally in women when their menstrual period ceases. That is, a woman’s ovaries decrease the production of eggs for fertilization. This process is followed by physiological changes that cause women to experience various physical symptoms.
Furthermore, women do not get menopause at the same age, and their symptoms can vary greatly. The current average for Western countries is 51 years.
After menopause, women cannot get pregnant. Also, the research suggests they become more prone to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Matti Hyvärinen is a doctoral researcher from the Gerontology Research Center at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. His research suggests estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, menopausal symptoms, and irregular menstrual cycles indicate approaching menopause. Furthermore, additional information, like physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking, provides other helpful information to assess the onset of menopause.
The study was done in Finland, and the participants were part of the Estrogenic Regulation of Muscle Apoptosis (ERMA) study. Academy Research Fellow Eija Laakkonen leads this research endeavor. The women involved in the study were between the ages of 47 and 55, and they lived in the Jyväskylä region. Furthermore, they were premenopausal on baseline measurements. During the study, they had laboratory visits every 3 to 6 months until they became post-menopausal.
The predictive model developed in this study demonstrated adequate prediction accuracy. The model had errors of slightly over six months between the predicted and observed age of onset. The model’s success also indicates it helps predict natural menopause for women in their thirties and forties.
Concerning the research findings, Hyvärinen gave the following statement. “The prediction of the age at natural menopause is beneficial for health promotion with middle-aged and elderly women but it could also be useful for women making decisions related to family planning and treatments for menopausal symptoms.”