Send to

Choose Destination
J Biosoc Sci. 1992 Apr;24(2):233-44.

Normative study of age variation in salivary progesterone profiles.

Author information

Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Daily luteal progesterone levels were measured for 124 regularly menstruating women, aged 18-44, by radioimmunoassay of steroid levels in saliva. A consistent pattern of age variation in luteal function was found, with the lowest levels of progesterone in the 18-19-year-old and 40-44-year-old groups, the highest values in the 25-34 year olds, and intermediate values in the 20-24 and 35-39-year-old groups. The striking similarity of this pattern of age variation with empirically and theoretically generated curves of apparent fecundability, suggests that age-related changes in ovarian function may underlie observed age variation in fecundability.


Daily salivary progesterone levels were determined by radioimmunoassay in 124 women aged 18-44 with regular menstrual cycles, and the superimposed luteal progesterone profiles were compared by age group. Salivary progesterone correlated with serum progesterone (correlation coefficient 0.80.-0.97. The subjects were screened for regular cycles of 22-38 days, normal body weight, and no weight loss or vigorous exercise, or recent oral contraceptives or pregnancy. The age groups of 20-24 to 35-39 consistently showed highest average progesterone levels, average mid-luteal progesterone, peak progesterone, number of days with progesterone over 300 pmol/1, and ovulatory frequency. The day of peak progesterone level was latest in the youngest women aged 18-19, earliest in those age 30-34, and intermediate in the other groups. There was a gradual, continuous progression and regression in luteal function with age over the reproductive span. The implications of this gradual change in ovarian function for studies in human biology, not only for carefully screened healthy Americans, but also for populations living in harsher ecological conditions, are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center