Researchers from Australia have found that errors in the alpha gene are the cause of premature menopause which is also known as the premature ovarian failure.It affects about 2% of the total population.
The University of Auckland team say the findings could lead to the development of a genetic test, which would allow women with a family history of the condition to know if they are at risk. They analysed DNA from women who had experienced POF, which can lead to loss of fertility and side effects such as weakened bones.
They found the inhibin alpha gene was mutated in three out of 34 of the women they studied, compared with only one out of 100 in an ethnically matched control group. Lead researcher Dr Andrew Shelling, from Auckland's National Women's Hospital, said the findings could lead to changes in women's reproductive habits.
As women in developed countries delay motherhood into their 30s, it may even be that one day women in their early 20s could take a genetic test to confirm that they weren't at risk of premature menopause. If there were indications that they were at risk of premature menopause, they may want to rethink their reproductive plans.