Determinants of early follicular phase gonadotrophin and estradiol concentrations in women of late reproductive age

D. W. Cramer, R. L. Barbieri, A. R. Fraer, B. L. Harlow

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39 Scopus citations


Background: FSH and estradiol measured during the menstrual (basal) phase of cycles predict the success of infertility treatment; but the role of these hormones as markers for ovarian reserve in normal populations needs further study. Methods and results: From a cohort study of depressed and non-depressed women, a subset of 406 non-depressed women between the ages of 36 and 45 years with spontaneous periods were selected and their concentrations and determinants of basal hormones measured at study entry, 6 and 12 months later were described. FSH and LH increased significantly over the 12 months of observation (P ≤ 0.001), but considerable variation was noted in FSH and estradiol in some women monitored over the three cycles. Concentrations often varied between a pattern of low FSH, high estradiol in one cycle and high FSH, low estradiol in another. In multivariate models focusing on the maximum observed hormone concentration, significant predictors included: increasing age (P < 0.0001), smoking (P = 0.04), and shorter cycle length (P < 0.0001) during adolescence (P < 0.0001) associated with higher FSH; increasing age (P < 0.0266) and lower body mass index (P < 0.0289) associated with higher LH; and a greater number of estimated ovulatory cycles associated with higher estradiol (P < 0.0425). Conclusions: Early reproductive landmarks, smoking, body weight, and factors that determine number of ovulatory cycles impact on ovarian/pituitary physiology in late reproductive life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-227
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Estradiol
  • Gonadotrophins
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ovulation


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