Monitoring reproductive aging in a 5-year prospective study: Aggregate and individual changes in luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone with age

Rebecca J. Ferrell, Kathleen A. O'Connor, Darryl J. Holman, Eleanor Brindle, Rebecca C. Miller, Germán Rodríguez, James A. Simon, Phyllis K. Mansfield, James W. Wood, Maxine Weinstein

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OBJECTIVE: This study describes age-related changes in luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in a 5-year prospective study of reproductive aging. DESIGN: Participants (n = 156 college-educated, white, US women; 25 to 58 y) were recruited from the TREMIN Research Program on Women's Health. They collected daily urine specimens for 6 months in each of 5 consecutive years. Specimens were assayed for LH and FSH. Aggregate changes were calculated in LH and FSH with age, and multilevel models were used to estimate individual hormone trajectories and within-woman and between-woman variances by age. RESULTS: Aggregate LH levels increased beginning after age 45; FSH increased at all ages, accelerating after age 45. Individual-level patterns with age included the following: reproductive-age LH and FSH levels, with increasing FSH and increasing or decreasing LH (ages 20 to 49); rapidly increasing LH and FSH (ages 40 to 59); and increasing or steady postmenopausal LH and FSH (ages 46 to 62). FSH levels were consistently high in the latter category, but LH levels overlapped with levels found in younger women (<45 y). Individual LH patterns showed more variability (5% to 35% of total variance) than FSH (3% to 22% of total variance). Both hormones had relatively low variation within individuals compared with between-woman differences (65% to 97% of total variance). CONCLUSIONS: Aggregate-level data do not reflect differences across women and oversimplify the age-related increases and variability in LH and FSH. Individual FSH levels are not distinguishable from reproductive-age levels until after rapid perimenopausal increases in FSH occur; individuals vary in whether their postmenopausal LH levels are distinguishable from reproductive-age levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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