Now, thanks to a long-term study of women's reproductive cycles begun in the 1930s and a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Penn State researchers hope to shed light on the years before women reach menopause and investigate how their health and reproductive histories affect the patterns of change.
"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 in College of the Liberal Arts and senior research scientist in Penn State's Population Research Institute.
The researchers plan to collect first morning urine samples from approximately 150 women ages 35 to 60 for six months of each year during the five-year project. 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.
"Collecting 28,000 samples per year over five years and analyzing them is a daunting prospect," says Kathleen O'Connor, a National Institute of Aging Post-Doctoral Trainee at Penn State's Population Research Institute and research associate in anthropology. "But understanding the variations and being able to model these changes could benefit many women. For example, in guiding women and their physicians in making choices about hormone replacement therapy."
"This research would not be possible without the Tremin Trust,"
says Wood. "The dedication of these women is amazing."
The Tremin Trust, begun at the University of Minnesota by Alan
Treloar in 1934, enrolled un
Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer