If you are a woman planning to hoping to conceive please call your mother, if you can, and ask her when she went through the menopause. Specifically ask her what her age was when her periods stopped completely. This information is highly predictive of your fertility.
We are born with a set number of eggs and slowly run out of them over our lives. By the menopause we have none left. The rate at which we run out of eggs is genetically determined. If your mother ran out early (i.e. had the menopause early) you are more likely to do the same.
About 1% of women enter the menopause before the age of 40 and about 10% enter it between 40 and 45. In the years leading up to the menopause, as egg numbers are getting low, you become less fertile and in many cases completely infertile. We can get a sense of just how many eggs you have left by measuring yourAMH level, your FSH level and your antral follicle count (AFC) by ultrasound. If any or all of these tests suggest a low egg count then fertility is decreased.
A study published this month in the journal Human Reproduction, analyzed 527 women’sAMH, AFC and their mother’s age at menopause. They found both AMH and AFC declined faster in women whose mothers had an early menopause (before the age of 45) compared to women whose mothers had a late menopause (after the age of 55).
This is yet another reminder of the importance of conceiving when you are young. Waiting until your late 30s or 40s, especially for women’s whose mother’s had early menopause might mean it’s hard or even impossible to conceive.
Sooner the better…..