Our bodies are highly complex, incredible systems. And our hormones help regulate every system in our bodies. From our bones and brain to our mood, hormones play a critical role in our overall health. Let’s meet the key players driving menstruation, fertility, and menopause.
What are the different female hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Hormones not only tell tissues and organs what to do, but they dictate when and for how long your cells should perform these functions. These vital messengers are formed in endocrine glands, whose primary role is to create and secrete hormones. We have many different endocrine glands in our bodies, including the ovaries, hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid gland. Hormones control your:
Growth and development
Men and women share many of the same hormones. However, each sex has different levels of certain hormones that make them biologically male or female. For example, both men and women have estrogen. Women have higher estrogen levels produced by their ovaries, whereas men have low levels of estrogen produced by their adrenal glands and testes. Female hormones include:
Thyroid hormones (Thyroid-stimulating hormone, triiodothyronine, and thyroxine)
Hormone levels change throughout your menstrual cycle and as you age. Some of the above hormones can shed light on how close a woman is to menopause.
What is the Anti-Müllerian hormone?
The Anti-Müllerian hormone, or AMH, plays a critical role in sex differentiation of an unborn baby. In the first weeks of pregnancy, AMH levels determine whether or not the fetus has male or female reproductive organs. If the fetus is destined to be female as it has XX chromosomes, AMH levels are low. On the contrary, AMH must be high for male organs to develop.
Once a female reaches puberty, her ovaries begin producing AMH. Specifically, AMH is produced in follicles inside your ovaries. Each egg should have a follicle that can help the egg grow and mature, as well as produce hormones, should the egg be fertilized. High levels of AMH correlate with a high number of eggs in the ovaries. AMH can reveal information about a woman’s fertility and her ability to get pregnant. This hormone can also provide insight into menstruation problems and the disease progression of women with ovarian cancer.
Checking AMH in a Perimenopause Test
Like eggs in the refrigerator at the grocery store, your own eggs have a shelf life. That is, they are destined to expire at some point. AMH is commonly tested when women have difficulty getting pregnant. However, checking this hormone can also offer insight into how close a woman is to menopause. This is because as women get closer to menopause, the number of follicles they have declines with age. And with the population aging and women entering motherhood later, AMH tests are becoming increasingly popular.
Many studies suggest that an AMH test can be highly predictive of when a woman will have her last period. While the average age for menopause is 51, there is a lot of variety. Indeed, some women enter menopause in their early forties to early sixties. Some studies have found that AMH is more accurate than FSH in determining the age of menopause.
What are normal AMH levels?
In general, AMH levels decline with age. Thus, normal AMH levels are age-dependent. Typically, AMH peaks around age 25. Below is a chart on normal AMH levels.
Women who want to have a perimenopause test should meet with their doctor to explore their options. One choice for women and physicians is the FDA-approved PicoAMH Elisa diagnostic test, which can help your doctor determine how close you are to menopause.
If you research perimenopause tests online, you will have several at-home options that you can try. These tests are generally not recommended because determining if you are in perimenopause requires a complete medical exam and a review of your symptoms. These tests can also be very costly.
If you have symptoms that make you suspect that you are in perimenopause, it is a great time to meet with your doctor. Perimenopause can be the start of certain health conditions such as osteoporosis, so it is essential to learn how to prevent health issues that arise once you hit menopause.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet The Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience are related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.
Find Julia's Perry community profile right here.