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How can menopause be accurately diagnosed from FSH levels?

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Quick Answer

Menopause cannot be accurately diagnosed from FSH levels alone, states The North American Menopause Society. Levels of FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, vary throughout the menstrual cycle during perimenopause. Multiple readings of FSH levels, in addition to estrogen levels, need to be performed to determine whether FSH is increasing over time. Additionally, doctors generally take into account other factors such as menstrual history and current symptoms when determining whether a woman is in menopause.

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How can menopause be accurately diagnosed from FSH levels?
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Full Answer

FSH is a hormone produced in the brain, according to the University of Pennsylvania Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness. FSH stimulates ovarian follicles to make estrogen, which in turn shuts off production of FSH. When a woman gets older, she has fewer follicles and produces less estrogen, causing FSH levels to rise.

FSH levels above 30 IU per liter generally indicate menopause, but levels can change widely from day to day, and in some stages of menopause women can have very low levels of FSH, notes the Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness. Other tests a doctor may use to confirm a menopause diagnosis include tracking a woman's period, assessing menopause symptoms and measuring vaginal pH levels, explains Healthline. If a doctor is unsure about the menopause diagnosis, he may run other tests to rule out other potential health problems.

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