Every woman eventually reaches the period of menopause. Perimenopause is a period of about four years before menopause, when the symptoms of menopause slightly and gradually begin to show. When a woman enters menopause, she undergoes many changes in her physical and psychological state. Since there are certain changes in hormone levels in her body, it affects her body, but also her mental state.
The symptoms of menopause are usually different from woman to woman. However, the main symptoms of menopause are irregular or missing menstrual cycle, hot flashes and mood swings, as well as depression, sleep disorders and irritability. It is considered that menopause begins with the hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone, abbreviated FSH.
Follicle-stimulating hormone – FSH and menopause
Follicle-stimulating hormone is a very important hormone in females, since it is responsible for stimulating the ovulation. The pituitary gland is responsible for the production of this hormone. When the level of this hormone rises, the ovaries release the eggs in the fallopian tube to be fertilized. When the level of FSH is increased, the level of estrogen is decreased. If the egg is not fertilized, menstruation starts and the level of estrogen increases, while the level of follicle-stimulating hormone decreases.
Menopause is a period when a woman does not ovulate. Therefore, the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone are always high. Furthermore, in menopause the hormone estrogen is not produced any more. However, the pituitary gland secretes more FSH in order to encourage the ovaries to manufacture more estrogen. Thus, in women who reached menopause, the level of follicle-stimulating hormone is very high.
Normal level of follicle-stimulating hormone
It is considered that the normal level of follicle-stimulating hormone in women who have not reached menopause ranges from 5 and 25 mIU/ml. So, when the test shows the readings above 25 mIU/ml, the woman is in perimenopause. If the reading on the test is higher than 50 mIU/ml, then the woman is in menopause.
The level of follicle-stimulating hormone can be measured by the means of a saliva test or a urine test. However, many experts recommend a urine test, since it is considered to be more accurate. Smoking and certain foods, as well as hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills, can influence the results of a saliva test. The test to measure the level of this hormone can be done in a laboratory, although there are many tests that can be bought over-the-counter.