Greater understanding of the factors which impact on the age women naturally go through the menopause could eventually lead to improved clinical infertility treatment, it has been claimed.
According to Lisette Stolk, a researcher from Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, knowing the age at menopause is crucial as the closer to menopause women are the more infertile they become.
"We know that ten years before menopause women are much less fertile, and five years before many are infertile," she commented.
"In western countries, where women tend to have children later in life and closer to menopause, age at menopause can be an important factor in whether or not a particular woman is able to become a mother."
Ms Stolk was involved in an investigation into the factors influencing age at menopause which found 20 common genetic variants known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in various places on chromosomes 19 and 20.
All of the 20 SNPs were linked with slightly earlier menopause, although the precise nature of the SNPs' impact has yet to be determined.
Eight in ten women in the UK experience symptoms including hot flushes in the lead-up to the menopause, NHS testimony reveals.