FSH Levels in Menopausal Women

Written by cindi pearce
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The pituitary gland, located at base of the brain, produces follicle stimulating hormones (FSH), along with luteinizing hormones, according to Advancedfertility.com. When a woman's brain detects that there is low oestrogen, which happens as menopause draws nearer, it calls to the pituitary to make more FSH. More FSH is released in an effort to get the ovaries to produce a good follicle and to produce more oestrogen. A woman's body doesn't give up without a fight. It's still trying to reproduce well into our 40s and 50s.

The Body Keeps Trying

More and more FSH must be produced by the pituitary gland if there are fewer follicles left in the woman's body and if those follicles are of lesser quality than they were when a woman was younger. Women are born with a finite number of eggs and they age, just like the woman does. Try as the pituitary might, no matter how much FSH is released there aren't any viable follicles left and ovulation and pregnancy is not going to occur. Consequently, a menopausal woman's FSH levels remain high until her death.

Rising FSH Levels

During a woman's reproductive years, her FSH level is somewhere between 5 and 25 mIU/ml. However, once she enters into perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause, her FSH levels will rise. Levels higher than 25 indicate that a woman is headed for the finish line and is close to menstrual cessation. FSH levels rise during perimenopause because the woman's body is still trying to ovulate (produce an egg for fertilisation) but can't manage it because of hormonal imbalances. If a woman's FSH level is higher than 50, she is in full menopause, according to Epigee.org.

Ovaries Are Failing

High FSH levels indicate that a woman's ovaries are starting to fail, which means menopause is just around the corner, according to Epigee.org. Each month, FSH levels rise to prepare for ovulation. When the hormones rise in a younger woman, this prompts the ovaries to release the egg follicles. Once the egg is released, oestrogen levels rise and FSH levels drop as the body prepares for a pregnancy or a period. However, if a woman is menopausal, ovulation does not occur so the FSH levels don't drop as they did when she was younger.

Estradiol Test and FSH Test

According to The Cleveland Clinic, two tests may be run on a woman, particularly a young woman who is suspected of going into premature menopause. The doctor will measure estradiol (oestrogen) levels. If they are below 20 to 40 that may indicate that menopause is happening. The second test is to measure FSH levels. When the ovaries slow down production of oestrogen, the FSH levels increase. If FSH levels are 30 to 40 mIU/ml in a younger woman, it means that she has premature ovarian insufficiency (POI).


<p>Epigee.org reminds women that, if taking a self-test at home, know that the results are not completely definitive and are only an indicator that you may be entering into menopause. These tests measure the levels of various hormones but cannot specifically tell you if you are absolutely in menopause. Abnormal hormone readings could conceivably be caused by something other than menopause. Because hormones fluctuate, the test should be repeated on a consistent basis.

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