Androgens and the menopause; a study of 40-60-year-old women.Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1996 Nov; 45(5):577-87.CE
The impact of the menopause on androgen production is poorly understood. We have investigated the impact of the menopause, as well as other factors such as age, body mass index (BMI) and cigarette smoking, on ovarian and adrenal androgen levels in women aged 40-60 years.
Cross-sectional study of blood hormones sampled weekly over one month in volunteer 40-60-year-old women.
One hundred and forty-one women, aged between 40 and 60, recruited from community sources (non-clinical), not using hormone replacement or steroidal contraceptives, and with a current sexual partner. Fifty were categorized as premenopausal (ovulating), 37 as perimenopausal and 54 as post-menopausal.
The following variables were assessed; menopausal status (based on menstrual history and pattern and plasma progesterone), age, BMI, smoking, oestradiol (E2), oestrone (E1), LH, FSH, total testosterone (TT), androstenedione (A), SHBG, free androgen index (FAI), dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dihydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and cortisol.
are based on multiple regression analysis. TT was positively related to A, BMI and LH. A was negatively related to age and FSH, and positively to DHEA, DHEAS and premenopausal status. SHBG was negatively related to BMI and positively to E1 and non-smoking. DHEA and DHEAS were negatively related to age and were higher in smokers. Both E1 and E2 were related to menopausal status and to FSH. Surprisingly, E2 was negatively related to BMI.
A variety of factors influence androgen production in this age group. Whereas it is difficult to predict the effect of menopause on androgen levels, LH stimulation of post-menopausal interstitial cells, modulated by a variety of factors including nutrition, and smoking, are likely to be relevant.