Elevated anti-Mullerian hormone in lean women may not indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2017 Oct;57(5):552-557. doi: 10.1111/ajo.12647. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Background: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous disorder with clinical features shared with functional hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism (FHH).

Aim: To investigate the usefulness of an elevated (>40 pmol/L) anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) in identifying PCOS and distinguishing PCOS from FHH.

Materials and methods: 141 patients with an elevated AMH and body mass index either <20 kg/m2 (lean) or >30 kg/m2 (obese) were selected and three subgroups analysed - obese, lean, lean with suspected FHH. FHH was diagnosed clinically, incorporating diet, weight and exercise history; confirmatory tests included pituitary MRIs, progestin challenges and endometrial thickness measurements. PCOS features of oligo/anovulation, polycystic ovarian morphology (PCOm) and hyperandrogenism were determined by clinical history, pelvic ultrasound, free androgen index and physical examination, respectively. Features of PCOS and blood levels of AMH, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and testosterone were compared between subgroups.

Results: Of 141 patients with elevated AMH, 76 were obese and 65 lean. Greater than one-third of lean women had the clinical picture of FHH. Elevated AMH predicted PCOm and menstrual irregularity across all subgroups but uniquely associated with hyperandrogenism in the obese. Median AMH levels were similar among FHH and non-FHH women. Median SHBG levels were significantly higher (111 ± 73 vs 56 ± 31, P < 0.001) in lean women with FHH compared to those without FHH.

Conclusions: PCOS and FHH share common features of elevated AMH levels, oligo-anovulation and polycystic ovarian morphology. AMH did not assist in differentiating FHH from PCOS. A higher SHBG level shows promise as a discriminatory finding in FHH.

Keywords: anti-Mullerian hormone; functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea; polycystic ovarian syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anovulation / blood
  • Anovulation / complications
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone / blood*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / blood*
  • Hypogonadism / complications
  • Hypogonadism / diagnosis*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Menstruation Disturbances / blood
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Thinness / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone