You might have heard of FSH, or Follicle Stimulating Hormone, but you also might not have and that’s okay too! FSH is a hormone that rises and falls throughout your Menstrual cycle, as it’s involved in Ovulation. But as we go through Menopause, it climbs and climbs, contributing to a whole host of symptoms. So let’s talk FSH, the what, why, where, and Menopause of it all.
What is FSH and what does it do?
Follicle-stimulating hormone does, well, exactly that to be honest. Produced by your brain’s pituitary gland, its main job is to tell the follicles housing your eggs to start growing. This message reaches your Ovaries via your bloodstream, and once it arrives, your ovaries produce Estrogen in return. That Estrogen travels back to your pituitary gland, which is looking out for the right levels before it’ll turn down the FSH production.
As this hormone messaging continues, FSH and Estrogen levels keep rising, maturing your eggs. Once your pituitary gland registers a high enough level of Estrogen, signaling your egg is ready for release, your FSH levels drop. And this carries on throughout your reproductive years.
All of which means that if you’re producing a lot of FSH, there’s a chance your Estrogen levels might be low. And if you’re producing a lot of Estrogen, chances are your FSH levels are correspondingly low.
What happens to FSH after Menopause?
Gang, as you may already know, Menopause is the official term for the retirement of your ovaries. Generally kicking off around your mid-40s, Perimenopause is the first stage of ovary retirement. As those assigned women at birth are literally born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, by the time you get to 45, your supply starts to run low.
In hormonal terms, that means the FSH message isn’t always getting the required level of Estrogen in return. That can lead to all sorts of Menopause symptoms as your pituitary gland produces more and more FSH to persuade your ovaries to get moving.
Menopause proper is the second stage of ovary retirement and is generally in full swing around age 51. That basically means your periods have been absent for 12 months in a row. At that point, your ovaries have fully retired, but your brain still won’t concede that point, and continues to increase your FSH level.
Which means that as you go through Menopause, your FSH level is as high as it’s ever been. All because your Estrogen levels are low, and your brain cannot understand what the actual what is going on.
Can FSH make my ovaries produce Estrogen again?
Sadly, no. Despite the fact that it would make all the lives of Menopause types easier, there’s no way FSH can persuade your ovaries to come out of retirement. As eggs don’t grow each month, once the supply has run out, that’s it.
That, though, doesn’t mean you also run out of Estrogen. You’ll still produce it, but in much smaller quantities, and from other places. As odd as that sounds, fat cells also produce Estrogen, so you’ll never completely run out
Are high FSH levels after Menopause bad?
High FSH levels are your body’s natural response to low Estrogen levels, regardless of Menopause. But once you’re in Menopause, they’ll be high for, well, possibly ever. It’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but high FSH can lead to Menopausal symptoms long after your periods have stopped.
Will an FSH test confirm Menopause?
As it stands, an FSH test isn’t necessary to confirm Menopause. The handy absence of periods, coupled with your age is really all that’s necessary. And that’s because the fall in Estrogen isn’t linear. It can fluctuate all over the place between Peri and Postmenopause, and that will have a knock-on effect on FSH.
That said, during the early stages of Menopause, some doctors may test your levels regularly, particularly if you’re a little on the young side for it.
FSH after Menopause: The bottom line
Gang, our brains are still in the testing stage, they are the Beta version of themselves, they… Have no idea what they’re doing sometimes. Perhaps in a later iteration, brains will understand egg totals and Menopause, but until then, high FSH is in a lot of people’s futures.
If you’re lucky enough to have little to no effects from that, more power to you. But for those who may well live with hot flashes, achy muscles, and brain fog for years, it’s not great news. There are, of course, lots of things you can do to help mitigate high FSH, from diet and nutrition to HRT. But please talk to a healthcare type, preferably a Menopause specialist if possible, before you make any treatment decisions.
In the meantime, wherever you are on the Menopause spectrum, tracking your hormones and symptoms is a fab idea and the Hormona app can help you do just. Come for our detailed tracking and symptom predictions and stay for the soon-to-be-available at-home hormone tests, personalized plans and so much more!
And as always, gang, please make sure you are taking care of you and investigating, talking about, and generally tackling any health concerns head-on!
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