Daughters shown to ‘inherit’ fertility

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A WOMAN’S potential fertility can be predicted from the age her mother went through the menopause, a study claims today.

Ovarian reserve – the number of eggs a woman has left in her ovaries – was found to decline faster in women whose mothers had an early menopause.

The findings suggest that a woman’s fertility is, to some extent, inherited from her mother.

Earlier studies had already indicated the trend, but the new research confirmed it by looking at two physical markers of ovarian reserve.

Scientists measured anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels and antral follicle count (AFC) in daughters and compared both with mothers’ age when they had the menopause.

Both key markers reduced at a faster rate in daughters whose mothers had the menopause early.

Study leader Janne Bentzen, from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, said: “This is the first study to suggest that the age-related decline of AMH and AFC may differ between those whose mothers entered menopause before the age of 45 years and those whose mothers entered menopause after the age of 55 years.

“Our findings support the idea that the ovarian reserve is influenced by hereditary factors.”

But Dr Bentzen said further work was required to confirm the findings.

Previous research has suggested that there is about 20 years between a woman’s fertility starting to decline and the onset of menopause.

It suggests a woman who enters the menopause at 45 may have experienced a decline in her fertility at the age of 25.

Follicles are clusters of cells that contain immature eggs.

Every woman is born with about two million but only 400 will ever mature enough to release an egg for fertilisation during a woman’s reproductive lifespan.

The results are reported in the latest online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.