Dr Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani and her team analysed blood samples from 266 women aged 40-49. They found that using levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) were able to predict when women would enter the menopause. On average, their predictions were accurate to within four months and the maximum margin of error was four years.
The researchers believe their findings could be used to identify women who may go through the menopause early.
'The results from our study could enable us to make a more realistic assessment of women's reproductive status many years before they reach menopause,’ Dr Ramezani Tehrani said. ‘For example, if a 20-year-old woman has a concentration of serum AMH of 2.8 ng/ml, we estimate that she will become menopausal between 35-38 years old.'
She added: 'We believe that our estimates of ages at menopause based on AMH levels are of sufficient validity to guide medical practitioners in their day-to-day practice, so that they can help women with their family planning.'
The researchers presented their findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction meeting in Rome this week.