ROME, June 27 (UPI) -- A test developed by Italian researchers could let women as young as 20 predict within a few months when they will cease to be fertile, medical experts say.
The blood test could give women trying to balance careers with parenthood a "birth deadline," The Sunday Times of London reported.
Menopause occurs on average at age 51 among western women, but about 15 percent experience it early, under the age of 45, The Times said.
The test measures levels of a hormone produced in the ovaries controlling development of the cells from which eggs develop.
"Our results suggest that the hormone (level) could precisely forecast the age at menopause, even in young women," Dr. Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani, who led the research, said.
The Times reported a British expert on menopause said the results were encouraging.
"A precise test like this would be very useful," Dr Heather Currie, co-editor of the journal of the British Menopause Society, said, "particularly to women considering delaying childbirth for family, career or other reasons."
The test could provide other benefits to women concerned with early menopause and its elevated risks of osteoporosis and heart disease, The Times said.