When will your period be over for good? If you’re still planning to have children, you probably hope it’s far in the future. On the other hand, if your family is complete, you may think the end can’t come too soon.
New research from UCLA may help answer that question and give women new opportunities to protect their health as they approach menopause.
Menopause is a time in a woman’s life that begins when she has her last menstrual period. Scientists know that after menopause, women are more likely to develop heart disease and lose bone faster than their bodies can replace it.
Being able to anticipate the date of a woman’s last period is significant because it gives health care providers new opportunities to protect a woman’s health including preparing for the start of menopause-related bone loss.
Just as with the start of your first period, you probably think you’ll just have to wait and see when your monthly cycle will wind to a halt. But scientists at UCLA report that they may now be able to predict the year a woman’s period will end.
The UCLA researchers gathered data through the multi-ethnic Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, which included Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Chinese and Japanese women. The data was accumulated over an 11 year span.
The 554 women included in the UCLA research were between the ages of 42 and 53 when the study began. All had an intact uterus and at least one ovary, all had at least one period in the three months prior to the start of the study, and none were taking any medication that would affect ovarian function.
The purpose of the study was to determine if hormone levels indicate how close a woman was to the end of her period. Hormones are chemical messengers released by organs and glands in the body to control other functions.
In women, reproductive hormones regulate the menstrual cycle including preparing eggs to be released from the ovaries, preparing the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant, and cleaning the uterus through the monthly period if no egg is implanted.