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Approved research

Genetic factors associated with being at different extremes of the reproductive lifespan

Principal Investigator: Dr Anna Murray
Approved Research ID: 871
Approval date: May 31st 2015

Lay summary

We aim to shed light on the processes which govern female reproduction throughout life. Female reproductive life begins at puberty when women start menstruating and ends at menopause when a woman?s supply of eggs becomes exhausted. On average most women start menstruating at about 13 years old, a process called menarche and go through menopause at about 50 years. Both of these processes are controlled jointly by genes and environmental factors. To date we have only identified a small proportion of the genetic influences and the environmental factors are not well understood. The length of reproductive lifespan impacts many aspects of female health, particularly fertility, breast cancer risk and osteoporosis. We aim to better understand the factors governing timing of menarche and menopause. In addition we will investigate the interaction of menopause risk factors and their impact on common diseases that have been linked to age at menopause, eg. heart disease and cancer. The study requires access to data only from female participants. We intend to make a subsequent linked application for access to genetic data when available. The long term impact of a better understanding of the processes that determine ovarian development and function may well lead to new methods of contraception, assisted fertility and fertility preservation.