Menstrual Cycle Hormone Changes in Women Traversing Menopause: Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Jul 1;102(7):2218-2229. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-4017.


Context: Menstrual cycle hormone patterns in women approaching menopause are inadequately studied.

Objective: To describe day-to-day menstrual cycle hormones in women as they approach menopause from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Daily Hormone Study (DHS).

Design: DHS enrollees collected daily urine for one entire menstrual cycle or up to 50 days, whichever came first, annually, up to the final menstrual period (FMP) or for up to 10 years.

Setting: Seven sites across the United States.

Participants: A total of 511 premenopausal or early perimenopausal women at enrollment, within 10 years before menopause.

Intervention: Time-to-FMP measurement.

Main outcome measures: Evidence of luteal activity (ELA), determined using objective algorithms. Menstrual cycle/segment length; whole cycle, and segment integrated urinary luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, estrone conjugates, and pregnanediol glucuronide (Pdg) for each year, organized around the FMP.

Results: Mean menstrual cycle length was remarkably preserved at 26 to 27 days in ELA cycles; non-ELA cycles had greater variability. The percentage of cycles that were ELA remained high until 5 years before the FMP (87.9%); only 22.8% of cycles within 1 year of the FMP were ELA. Whole cycle hormones remained relatively stable up to 3 years before the FMP, when gonadotropins began to increase. Pdg excretion declined slowly with progress to the FMP, but Pdg patterns of ELA cycles remained distinguishable from non-ELA.

Conclusions: Menstrual cycle hormone patterns in perimenopausal women resemble those of midreproductive-aged women until 5 years before menopause, and presumably ovulatory cycles retain a potentially fertile pattern up to the end of reproductive life.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Black or African American
  • Body Mass Index
  • Corpus Luteum / physiology
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estrone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Menstrual Cycle / ethnology
  • Menstrual Cycle / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Perimenopause / ethnology
  • Perimenopause / metabolism*
  • Pregnanediol / analogs & derivatives
  • Pregnanediol / metabolism
  • Premenopause / ethnology
  • Premenopause / metabolism
  • White People
  • Women's Health


  • Hormones
  • pregnanediol-3 alpha-glucuronide
  • Estrone
  • Estradiol
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Pregnanediol