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FSH Levels in Menopause

written by: Suzanne Florin • edited by: BStone • updated: 1/15/2011

FSH levels and menopause -- how are these two related to the production of estrogen? What cause the constant rise in FSH levels as a woman approach menopause? Learn more about FSH levels and the factors that trigger its sustained rise during menopause.

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    FSH and Menopause

    Follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, is a hormone that affects menopause and the menstrual cycle. This hormone is responsible for ovulation, as its rise encourages the egg follicles to be released from the ovaries in order to travel through the fallopian tubes. In response to the rise in FSH levels, estrogen levels drop. Days after the release of eggs, FSH levels will then drop once menstruation begins.

    For women who are in menopause, ovulation stops once they no longer heve their period. During this stage in their life, the FSH sustains its high levels while a decline in estrogen production occurs. This results to symptoms that are related to lack of estrogen such as irregularities in the menstrual cycle, fatigue, irritability, and depression.

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    Symptoms

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    Women experience certain physical and psychological discomfort that are linked with FSH levels and menopause. These symptoms may be alleviated with the use of prescription medication, hormone therapy, and alternative medicine. Consultations with a health care provider must be done initially before taking any form of medication for menopause symptoms.

    The absence of ovulation in menopause tends to cause FSH levels to rise, while estrogen levels drop. The rise in FSH levels is also the result of the pituitary gland's action to produce more FSH in the hopes to stimulate the ovaries to produce more estrogen. Ovulation completely stops during menopause and estrogen levels remain low, even if the body has an abundant supply of FSH. This phenomenon results to symptoms associated with insufficient supply of estrogen, such as an irregular period, moodiness and insomnia.

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    Diagnosis

    For women who are not in their menopause yet, the normal FSH levels is between 5 and 25 m IU/ml. Premenopausal women has >25 m IU/ml, while >50 m IU/ml is an indication of menopause. Once women approach menopause, it is important for them to take certain hormone tests; that way, proper medication may be prescribed to alleviate hormone-related symptoms.

    One of the tests that a health care provider would recommend is the FSH levels test. The FSH levels is measured through urine sample or saliva, although the latter is less accurate because of several factors that could affect the test's result such as smoking, certain foods, and hormone replacement therapy. Women who are not menstruating anymore may take the test anytime; but those who have irregular menstrual cycle may take the test on the third day of their period. FSH levels normally fluctuate each month, that is why it is better to take the test twice, about a month apart.

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    Treatment

    Post menopause symptoms normally ease in time. But some opt to take hormone replacement therapy to alleviate severe physical discomfort associated with menopause. However, these symptoms can be alleviated as well with the right diet, sufficient sleep and rest, and exercise. Calcium is an important nutrient that must be incorporated in one's daily diet in order to prevent bone loss or osteoporosis, as this condition is also linked to hormone levels such as low progesterone. Most doctors recommend 1500 mg. of calcium and 750 mg of magnesium for menopausal women. These can be taken in the form of capsules, supported by foods such as orange juice, broccoli and other dark green leafy vegetables, milk, and yogurt. Exercising regularly can also help in maintaining a healthy mood and in handling stress.

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    Resources

    Premature Menopause, From

    http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/premature-menopause

    FSH Levels and Menopause, From

    http://www.ihealthdirectory.com/fsh-levels-and-menopause/

    Photo Credits: WikiCommons