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FSH Levels and Menopause



FSH Levels and Menopause
FSH or follicle stimulating hormone is a crucial hormone for regulating the reproductive processes of the body. In women older than 45 years, high FSH levels can indicate an impending menopause. Know more about the relation between FSH levels and menopause, and how the level of FSH can help you to determine whether menopause is around the corner.Menopause can be a difficult phase in the life of a large section of women, as they have to deal with some uncomfortable menopause symptoms, like irregularities in the menstrual cycle, irritability, depression, sleep disorders, hot flushes and memory problems, to name a few. Besides this, a major part of the frustration comes from the uncertainty of the fact that whether these are the symptoms of impending menopause, or an indicator of some other major health problem. But nowadays, it is no longer a trouble, as a test of the FSH level can help a woman to know if irregularities in her menstrual cycle is caused by approaching menopause or by some other disease.

What is FSH?
FSH stands for follicle-stimulating hormone, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. This hormone is responsible for regulating growth and development, as well as pubertal maturation in both male and female. It plays a key role in the reproductive processes of the human body. In women, FSH stimulates the growth of the ovarian follicles, and estrogen production by the ovaries. The hormone also regulates ovulation. A high level of FSH induces ovulation, and when an egg is released by the ovary, its level decreases, while that of estrogen rises.

FSH Levels and Menopause
As has been mentioned already, a rise in the FSH level stimulates ovulation. When ovulation takes place, i.e. an egg is released by the ovary, the FSH levels in women decreases, while that of estrogen increases. So, in the absence of ovulation, as in case of menopause, there will not be any drop in the FSH levels. Menopause, which marks the end of the menstrual cycle is therefore, characterized by high FSH levels. Menopause and FSH levels hence, can be said to have a strong relation.

Menopause is associated with a marked reduction in the level of the hormone, estrogen. As a result, the body signals the pituitary gland to produce more FSH, so that it can promote the ovaries to increase the production of estrogen. But, even the high FSH levels during menopause fails to stimulate the growth of ovarian follicles, induce ovulation and increase the estrogen level. But, still the pituitary gland tries its best to induce ovulation by increasing the level of FSH. This is the reason why the level of FSH in the body remains high after menopause. In other words, a consistently high level of FSH indicates that the ovaries are failing and the woman is approaching menopause.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone Test
Due to the relationship between FSH levels and menopause, FSH test is widely used for confirming whether a woman is experiencing irregular menstruation as a premenopausal symptom, or it is caused by certain other factors. A high FSH level can indicate that the body is trying induce ovulation, but is failing to do so. FSH test helps to distinguish between primary ovarian failure and secondary ovarian failure. Primary ovarian failure is caused by the failure of the ovaries themselves, while secondary ovarian failure may be associated with some underlying disorders of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The conditions other than menopause, that have been found to cause a high level of FSH are, infertility, ovarian cyst and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Even men infertility can be diagnosed with this test. FSH test is also widely used to evaluate the condition early sexual development in children.

The FSH level can be determined both with the help of urine and saliva test. The normal level of FSH in a menstruating woman lies between 5 and 25mIU/ml. If the level is higher than 25, then the woman is in the peri or premenopausal stage, while she is menopausal, if the level is around 50. The urine test is more accurate than the saliva test, as the saliva test may get influenced by several environmental factors like, smoking and intake of oral contraceptives. The women in the reproductive stage should keep in mind that, the level of FSH can fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, and hence, the test should be carried on a specific day, usually on the third day of the menstrual cycle.

To sum up, testing the FSH level is an effective way for detecting and evaluation a number of conditions related with infertility and irregularities of the menstrual cycle. The relationship between FSH levels and menopause makes it of special importance to women coping with one of the menopausal symptoms. This hormone level can help them to reduce their stress and anxiety, by allowing them to know whether they are experiencing the symptoms of menopause or some other health problems.