American Society for Reproductive Medicine

View all recommendations from this society

Released April 13, 2015

Don’t obtain follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels in women in their 40s to identify the menopausal transition as a cause of irregular or abnormal menstrual bleeding.

Menstrual bleeding patterns for women after age 40 are less predictable than in the younger years due to the normal menopausal transition. Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for one year when no other cause can be identified (it is often accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats). During this time, blood levels of FSH vary both from woman to woman and from day to day in the same woman. An FSH level does not predict when the transition to menopause will occur, diagnose that it has begun or provide reassurance that contraception is no longer necessary. If there are no other causes of irregular or abnormal bleeding, the treatment for these women will not change based on the FSH level.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) reviewed evidence from ASRM’s practice documents to identify possible topics along with suggestions for possible topics from the ASRM Board of Directors. By consensus, the Practice Committee narrowed the list to the top five most overused tests within specified parameters. Additional input was sought from the ASRM Board of Directors and incorporated. The final list was reviewed and approved by the ASRM Board of Directors. The ASRM Board of Directors and Practice Committee are comprised of representatives from every aspect of reproductive medicine through our five affiliated societies including the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.

ASRM’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at www.asrm.org.

Sources

Paramsothy P, Harlow SD, Greendale GA, Gold EB, Crawford SL, Elliott MR, Lisabeth LD, Randolph JF Jr. Bleeding patterns during the menopausal transition in the multi-ethnic Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN): a prospective cohort study. BJOG. 2014 Nov;121(12):1564–73.

Harlow SD, Lin X, Ho MJ. Analysis of menstrual diary data across the reproductive life span applicability of the bipartite model approach and the importance of within-woman variance. J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Jul;53(7):722–33.

Treloar AE, Boynton RE, Behn BG, Brown BW. Variation of the human menstrual cycle through reproductive life. Int J Fertil. 1967 Jan-Mar;12(1 Pt 2):77–126.

Vollman RF. The degree of variability of the length of the menstrual cycle in correlation with age of woman. Gynaecologia. 1956 Nov;142(5):310–4.

Burger HG, Hale GE, Robertson DM, Dennerstein L. A review of hormonal changes during the menopausal transition: focus on findings from the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project. Hum Reprod Update. 2007 Nov–Dec;13(6):559–65.

Burger HG. Diagnostic role of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) measurements during the menopausal transition–an analysis of FSH, oestradiol and inhibin. Eur J Endocrinol. 1994 Jan;130(1):38-42.