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Researchers Investigate Years Before Menopause

University Park, Pa. -- Baby boomers in a long-term study of women's reproductive cycles are helping Penn State researchers map the uncharted years of perimenopause, the several years leading up to menopause.

The researchers are investigating how women's health and reproductive histories affect the patterns of change during permimenopause and after.

"Anything that takes us a step further in identifying the changes leading up to menopause will be very helpful," says Dr. James W. Wood, professor of anthropology and senior research scientist in Penn State's Population Research Institute.

The researchers are collecting first morning urine samples from approximately 150 women ages 35 to 60 for six months of each year during the five-year project which began this year. The samples will be analyzed for the metabolic remains of four hormones linked with the monthly female reproductive cycle -- estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone.

While collecting 28,000 samples a year for five years and analyzing them is a daunting task, understanding variations among women and being able to model changes could benefit women in such ways as guiding women and their physicians in making choices about hormone replacement therapy.

"This research would not be possible without the Tremin Trust," Wood told attendees today (Feb. 15) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Philadelphia. "The dedication of these women is amazing."

The Tremin Trust, begun at the University of Minnesota by Alan Treloar in 1934, enrolled university women in a long term reproductive study. The first cohort of women was recruited in the 1930s and the second in the 1960s and 1970s. Both cohorts have kept continual calendars indicating the starting and ending dates of their monthly periods. Annual health surveys are done each year and include information on births
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
15-Feb-1998


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