Your pituitary gland secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) to regulate your menstrual cycle. The level of these hormones fluctuate when a woman experiences menopause, particularly as estrogen levels decrease.
What the Hormones Do
During a regular menstrual cycle, FSH and LH levels increase midway through the cycle, a day or two before ovulation. FSH stimulates the ovary to ripen a follicle, and with the help of LH, to release an egg. After that, FSH and LH levels decrease as your uterus gets ready for pregnancy or another period.
FSH and Menopause
Your pituitary gland secretes FSH in response to low estrogen levels. Because estrogen levels decrease as you approach menopause, FSH levels tend to be higher.
LH and Menopause
LH levels also go up as you approach menopause.
Testing levels of FSH and LH alone cannot be used to predict or confirm menopause because the levels can fluctuate greatly from month to month in the years approaching menopause.
According to Dr. Marcelle Pick, an obstetrician/gynecologist who founded the Women to Women medical clinic in Yarmouth, Maine, FSH and LH tests are more useful for identifying fertility issues than for determining menopause.