28/06/2010 11:50 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

New Blood Test Could Tell Women When It's Too Late For A Baby

A new blood test could tell women as young as 20 how long they have left to start a family.

The kit is currently being developed by doctors and could be on sale within three years. It would predict when a woman will go through menopause to within four months. So if the results show that the start of menopause is close, a woman can make the decision to try for a family or freeze her eggs for a later date.

The blood test seems to have been created to help women who are concerned about early menopause. Researcher Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani said "'In modern society women try to finish their education, get a job and take good opportunities and postpone pregnancy until later.

'Every day, I have women asking me if they are at risk of early menopause. At the moment, we don't have an answer to this question. Maybe this study can provide an answer.'

The study took samples of blood from 266 women aged between 20 and 49, and measured levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (also known as AMH). This is a chemical key to the maturation of eggs in the ovaries.

Of the 266 women that took part, 63 have reached menopause. The predictions for those women have been accurate to within four months on average. The worst forecasts were only out by three or four years.

British experts, like consultant gynaecologist and director of IVF at London's Hammersmith Hospital Stuart Lavery, support these findings, and believe it gives women more choice when it comes to choosing when to have children.

It's worth remembering though that the blood tests cannot indicate whether they will definitely be able to conceive given the number of external factors. Fertility problems can also occur in the last few years leading up to the menopause.

In the UK, the average age for the menopause is 52, although a small percentage (1%) go through it earlier.

Source: Daily Mail