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Read Original Story

Scientists find way to predict timing of menopause

Rating

2 Star

Scientists find way to predict timing of menopause

Our Review Summary

Anti-Mullerian Hormone, or AMH, is a hormone produced by cells in the ovary during reproductive years and can be detected with a blood test. Declining AMH levels has been shown to correlate with poor response to in-vitro fertilization, a marker of poor ovarian reserve. This has led to the idea that the test could be used to predict the start of the menopausal transition. However, because the marker has not been studied systematically, it is unclear what different AMH levels mean. For example, what is a normal AMH level? As a result, AMH levels should be interpreted with some caution.

This story reports on results from a new study whose results are to be presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. The study investigators developed an algorithm using AMH levels to predict onset of menopause. However, the full results of the study have not been made available and have not been evaluated by experts.

This story does little to explain to the reader the limitations of the AMH test. It presents the assertion that the test is reliable as fact and does not discuss any potential downsides. False positive results, for example, could cause unnecessary worry and anxiety and lead to needless fertility treatments. The story also does not say whether the AMH test is new or not. In fact, it is not new and is one of group of tests that are intended to evaluate ovarian reserve. However, the study does not mention any of those other tests that are available.

 

Why This Matters

This area of research is important because the duration of fertility is of great interest to many women.  A method that could accurately predict menopause could be a proxy for predicting the end of the fertility period.  But, as noted, it’s too early to say that about this reported method.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention costs, or potential costs of the test.  On one website, the cost was of the test was $183.  It is unclear whether insurers would pay for this, unless in the setting of an infertility evaluation.http://www.acubalance.ca/ovarian-reserve-testing-including-anti-müllerian-hormone-amh.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the potential benefits of the AMH test.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story provides no mention of any potential downsides of the testing. False positive results, for example, could cause unnecessary worry and anxiety and lead to needless fertility treatments.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story provides no discussion of the strength of the current study. Although the story mentions that the results are "to be presented" at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, it does not discuss why that may mean it is hard to interpret the implications of the findings.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering. The story should have also avoided referring to women who want a career before having babies to know how long to wait.  Having a career does not preclude having a family, biological or otherwise.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story briefly quotes one source other than the study’s lead author. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story makes no mention of any existing alternatives, of which there are several.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe whether the AMH test is available or not.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not say whether the AMH test is new or not. In fact, it is not new and is one of group of tests that are intended to evaluate ovarian reserve.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory

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