Menopause is a hormone rollercoaster ‒ as you’ll be able to see from our FSH levels menopause chart.
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?
- Is FSH a good indicator of menopause?
- Can FSH levels be too high in menopause?
- What level of FSH indicates menopause?
- Does HRT affect FSH levels?
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.
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.
Is FSH a good indicator of 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.
But when it comes to the menstrual cycle, estrogen plays a really important role in telling your body to dial back on the FSH once it’s done its job.
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, roughly ‒ bearing in mind every woman’s journey through menopause is different (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.
Can FSH levels be too high in 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.
But if you’re struggling with symptoms or are younger than the average menopause age of 52, your doctor may order a blood test.
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.
What level of FSH indicates menopause?
There is no one-size-fits-all chart that can predict exactly what FSH level indicates menopause.
However, as a general rule of thumb, an FSH level consistently above 30 mIU/mL may indicate that menopause has arrived, or is just around the corner.
But here’s the thing ‒ your FSH levels can fluctuate greatly during perimenopause, which can make it challenging to pinpoint exactly where you are in the process.
Very generally speaking, here’s a quick FSH levels chart through menopause and puberty, two key times when your hormones can be running wild, according to Mira:
- Before puberty: FSH levels of 0-4.0 mIU/mL
- During puberty: FSH levels of 0.3-10.0 mIU/mL
- After puberty: FSH levels of 4.7-21.5 mIU/mL
- After menopause: FSH levels of 25.8-134.8 mIU/mL
So, if you’re experiencing symptoms like irregular periods, mood swings, and those dreaded hot flashes, it may be worth speaking to your doctor about getting your FSH levels tested to gain a clearer picture of what’s going on.
Does HRT affect FSH levels?
Yes, it can.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is designed to supplement the declining levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body during perimenopause and menopause.
This supplementation can result in lower FSH levels, as the body doesn’t need to produce as much of the hormone to keep things running smoothly.
But here’s the thing ‒ FSH levels aren’t the be-all and end-all of menopause.
While HRT can affect your FSH levels, it’s not the only factor to consider when deciding whether or not to go down the HRT route.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of HRT, and to decide what’s right for you based on your unique needs and preferences.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what FSH level indicates menopause in a chart, we do know a few things.
First, FSH levels can fluctuate greatly during perimenopause and menopause, making it challenging to pinpoint exactly where you are in the process.
Second, while FSH levels are an important factor to consider when it comes to menopause, it’s certainly not the only one.
Symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and irregular periods can also give you a clue that your body is going through some changes.
So whether you’re perimenopausal, menopausal, or somewhere in between, know that you are totally capable of handling whatever comes your way.