Hormones are substances produced by the body that have chemical effects on other parts of the body. Women produce hormones, such as estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone. Certain hormones rise at various times of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. Hormone levels also change at menopause.
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Estrogen is the predominant female hormone; estradiol is the predominant form of estrogen produced in the ovaries. Normal estrogen levels, according to Fertility Plus hormone charts, on days two to three of the menstrual cycle are 25 to 75 picograms per milliliter (pg/ml). A higher level on day two or three may indicate peri-menopause, a time when the body’s egg reserve is running low, according to a 2005 article by Jerilynn C. Prior in "Endocrine." Estradiol decreases in menopause to less than 32 pg/ml, and often drops to less than 10 pg/ml, according to Military Obstetrics and Gynecology.
During the menstrual cycle, estradiol rises to 200 to 300 pg/ml per mature follicle, according to the Malpani Infertility Clinic. As menstruation approaches, estradiol again falls to day-two levels if pregnancy has not occurred. If a woman becomes pregnant, levels remain high.
Progesterone is produced mainly by the corpus luteum, the remnant of the follicle that contained the egg released from the ovary. Progesterone levels are less than 1.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) before ovulation and rise to more than 15 ng/ml after ovulation, according to Fertility Plus female hormone level charts. Progesterone continues to rise if pregnancy occurs, to 300 ng/ml or higher, according to the American Pregnancy Association. If no pregnancy occurs, levels drop back to levels of 1.5 ng/ml or less.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
Luteinizing hormone increases right before an egg is released from the ovary. Baseline levels are less than 7 international units per liter (IU/L) on day three of the menstrual cycle and the hormone level rises to 20 IU/L or higher as the egg matures and is released from the ovary, according to Fertility Plus. LH levels then return to day-three levels.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
FSH is produced in the ovaries and stimulates egg maturation. Levels of FSH on days two to three should be less than 9 milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml), according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago (AFCC). A higher level of FSH indicates peri-menopause, and a level higher than 40 mIU/ml means that a woman is menopausal. FSH levels indicate a woman’s potential ability to become pregnant. AFCC states that FSH levels of 11 to 15 mIU/ml indicate decreased egg reserve and a reduced chance of pregnancy, while levels of 20 mIU/ml relate to a very low chance of pregnancy and live birth.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago: Follicle Stimluating Hormone
- American Pregnancy Association: Concerns Regarding Early Fetal Development
- Malpani Infertility Clinic: Male & Female Infertility Laboratory Tests
- Fertility Plus: Hormone Levels & Fertility Bloodwork
- Endocrine; Ovarian Aging and the Perimenopausal Transition; J. Prior; April 2005
- Military Obstetrics and Gynecology: Menopause