Can follicle-stimulating hormone be used to define menopausal status

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Follicle Stimulating Hormone; Menopause; Perimenopause; Premenopause; Postmenopause; Statistics


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Women's Studies


OBJECTIVE: To assess the ability of the level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to distinguish among premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women.

METHODS: We examined cross-sectional and longitudinal data from the second phase of the Massachusetts Women's Health Study (1986 to 1995), a population-based cohort of 427 premenopausal and perimenopausal women identified from the first phase of the Massachusetts Women's Health Study (1981 to 1986).

RESULTS: Boxplots of FSH levels throughout the menopausal transition displayed considerable overlap. Logistic regressions and their resulting receiver operating characteristic curves further demonstrated that, although FSH is a statistically significant predictor of menopausal status, no single value of FSH is expedient for distinguishing premenopausal from perimenopausal or perimenopausal from postmenopausal women.

CONCLUSION: FSH alone is not an effective predictor of transition into the perimenopausal or postmenopausal period. Specifically, the frequently recommended FSH cutoff of 40 IU/L is inappropriate by itself for clinical determination of postmenopausal status.


Endocr Pract. 1998 May-Jun;4(3):137-41.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Endocrine practice : official journal of the American College of Endocrinology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID