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New Formula Better Predicts Final Menstrual Period

Update Date: Mar 26, 2013 10:05 AM EDT

Researchers have now come up with a new model that could better estimate the timing of the final menstrual period, according to a new study.

Researchers said that the new formula that uses the levels of two hormones to estimate when the final menstrual period would occur could help menopausal women combat bone loss and cardiovascular risk.

Researchers say that being able to accurately predict the final menstrual period could have greater implications for women's health. Lead author Dr. Gail Greendale of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) explained that women face accelerated bone loss and increased heart risk in the year leading up to the final menstrual period.

"For example, some researchers have proposed that an intervention begun one or two years before the final menstrual period would greatly decrease future fracture risk by preventing the very rapid bone loss that occurs in the few years before and few years after the final menses," Greendale said in a statement.

"But before ideas such as this can be tested, we need to accurately predict where a woman is in her timeline to menopause," Greendale added.

Using the levels of two hormones, researchers were able to estimate when the final menstrual period would occur.  The calculations relies on changing levels of estradiol, a hormone present in the ovary, and follicle stimulating hormone, a hormone in the brain that gives instructions to the ovary. Researchers explain that follicle stimulating hormone levels rise and estradiol levels fall as women go through menopause.

The menopause transition period is currently determined by monitoring bleeding patterns.  However, researchers say that the menopause transition stage is a very imprecise predictor of when the final menstrual period will take place.  Researchers explain that more than 60 percent of women who are classified as early perimenopausal, having periods that are less predictable but no big gaps in cycles, actually become postmenopausal without any additional clinical bleeding sign.

"We need a better way to answer women's questions about when to expect the final menstrual period," Greendale conlcuded. "If further research bears out our approach, it could be the first step to developing web-based calculators and other tools women can use to estimate where they are in the menopause transition and how far away their final period is."

The findings are expected to be published in the April 2013 issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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