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The Potential to Delay Menopause is on the Horizon

  • Category: Women's Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
The Potential to Delay Menopause is on the Horizon

The prospect is still years away, but scientists have been working on a new medication that could potentially delay or even prevent menopause, which starts on average at age 51.

During menopause, estrogen and progesterone production comes to a stop, and the ovaries no longer release eggs. Though much more nuanced and specific to each woman, it officially begins a year after your last period and is notorious for symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, vaginal dryness and emotional changes. The transition period, called perimenopause, usually begins in your mid-40s, when you may first notice changes in your cycle or new symptoms.

This hormonal shift does put women in menopause at a higher risk for various conditions. The drop in estrogen speeds up bone loss, which is one of the reasons women are twice as likely to have osteoporosis. The risk for heart disease and depression increases, too. If you use hormone therapy during menopause, the estrogen can put you at a greater risk for blood clots.

But there is ongoing research about whether some of these things happen because of aging, not menopause itself. One field of research focuses specifically on ovarian aging, with the view that ovarian health and function has a strong connection to overall health.

The newest medication in the works is an injection that would engage the anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which regulates the development of eggs. In your 30s, the ovaries – which age faster than any other organ – start to age rapidly, and AMH levels bottom out during menopause.

While AMH research has historically focused on ovarian cancer and infertility, this newer approach that would mimic the AMH protein and could extend the childbearing years and possibly delay the onset of menopause. Other AMH-based drugs are in the works, too. Outside of potential AMH options, researchers are looking at ovarian aging from other angles, including a clinical trial to test whether an immunosuppressant used in organ transplants and cancer treatment may slow that aging process and whether anti-fibrotic drugs could improve egg quality for longer.

Some women in menopause may take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which replaces the natural hormones and can help with the slew of symptoms. There are different version of HRT, and each has both benefits and potential risks. If you have questions about menopause or symptoms you are struggling with, talk to your healthcare provider about your options.