Menopause is a hormone rollercoaster — as you’ll be able to see from our FSH levels menopause chart. Here, we explain what’s going on.
The rapid hormone changes of menopause can hit you with some unexpected symptoms.
So let’s take a deep dive into one of the hormones responsible for the changes in your body: FSH, or the follicle-stimulating hormone.
We’ll look at what it does and how FSH levels typically change during menopause.
And we’ll include a helpful FSH levels menopause chart.
As our Peanut menopause community will tell you, talking about this stuff and finding out as much as possible makes menopause easier to navigate.
Since knowledge is power, let’s get to it!
In this article: 📝
- What is FSH?
- How do FSH levels change during menopause?
- What do high FSH levels mean during menopause?
What is FSH?
FSH stands for follicle-stimulating hormone. And it does exactly what it says.
Like a lot of important hormones, FSH is produced by your [pituitary gland](https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21459-pituitary-gland#:~:text=Your%20pituitary%20gland%20(also%20known,of%20making%20several%20essential%20hormones.).
But although it starts its journey in this small part of your brain, FSH acts on (or stimulates) the potential future eggs (or follicles) in your ovaries.
For a lot of your life, the level of FSH in your blood spikes around the middle of your menstrual cycle.
The hormone tells your ovaries to let one or more of its follicles ripen and mature.
When the level of LH (luteinizing hormone) in your blood takes its turn to rise (called the LH surge), the egg is released, and you ovulate.
Before menopause, FSH and LH are the big hitters when it comes to controlling the timing of your menstrual cycle.
So when perimenopause rolls around and your periods get less predictable, you might expect your body to stop producing these hormones altogether.
But (as menopause quickly teaches you) our bodies are full of surprises. The exact opposite is actually true.
How do FSH levels change during menopause?
Menopause is defined as twelve months after your period stops for good.
When you’re in perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause), the levels of FSH in your blood rise dramatically.
Counterintuitive, we know.
The surge is to do with something called a negative feedback mechanism.
This is a process your body uses to bring things back into balance when something gets out of whack.
For example, your pancreas produces insulin after you eat to stop your blood sugar from getting too high.
And your kidneys make more dilute urine after you take a big drink.
You have negative feedback mechanisms for hormones too.
This means that when you reach perimenopause and your body gradually stops producing estrogen, your FSH levels increase.
On a menopause hormone levels chart, FSH and estradiol (a specific form of estrogen) curve in opposite directions.
Here’s what it looks like (data courtesy of What-When-How):
(FSH is the solid black line, and estrogen is the solid blue line.)
As estrogen falls, FSH rises because that negative feedback mechanism has been removed.
What do high FSH levels mean during menopause?
A higher level of FSH during perimenopause and after menopause is nothing to worry about.
Most menopause symptoms are caused by a lack of estrogen, not by an excess of other hormones.
And as you can see from the chart, FSH plateaus soon after menopause, although it stays far higher than during puberty or the menstrual cycle.
You might never find out your FSH levels during menopause.
Your FSH level can then be used to rule out other conditions that might be responsible for your symptoms.
And this can help you get the treatment you need.