FSH levels: Understand how this hormone indicates your fertility

Fertility issues have become rampant nowadays. If you haven't heard about Follicle stimulating hormone or FSH levels before, it's time to learn about it!
What are FSH levels
Let's get to know what these FSH levels are! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Nivedita Mishra Updated: 23 Aug 2022, 08:53 pm IST
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Follicle stimulating hormone or FSH is one of the two gonadotropic hormones. This hormone, along with Luteinising hormone or LH, are released from the pituitary gland into the bloodstream. Do you know the role FSH levels play in your fertility?

These hormones are essential to pubertal functions and development in male’s testes and female ovaries. This hormone stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in the ovary before the egg is released in women. It is also known to increase oestradiol production. The follicle stimulating hormone acts on the sertoli cells of the tested in males. It stimulates sperm production which is also known as spermatogenesis.

We all know how essential FSH hormone is in terms of reproductive health. But can the imbalance of FSH levels lead to fertility problems? Let’s see how the unstable levels of FSH affect your body.

FSH levels in men and women
FSH levels are important for fertility in both men and women. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

FSH levels and fertility

If you are trying to conceive, your FSH levels should be around 10mlU/ml. An imbalance makes it much more difficult to conceive as it helps in regulating your menstrual cycle and the process of ovulation. FSH stimulates your ovarian function. Women who are experiencing premature menopause or are approaching menopause will have high levels of FSH hormones which helps them to sustain healthy ovarian reserve despite low estrogen levels.

What could the high levels of FSH in your blood mean?

Most often the high levels of FSH are a sign of malfunction of ovary and testis. When the gonads fail to secrete enough estrogen and testosterone, the levels of FSH and LH will rise. This condition is called hypergonadotropic-hypogonadism. It is associated with primary insufficiency of ovarian function or testicular failure.

If the FSH level in your body is high, it could mean;

* You are not producing quality eggs for fertilization. This usually happens with old age. Fertility declines with age as there are fewer eggs in the ovaries.
* You are about to reach menopause
* Loss of ovarian function or ovarian failure
* Chromosomal abnormality

Fertility issues
Quality of eggs matter for a healthy pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What could the low levels of FSH in your blood mean ?

The lack of Follicle Stimulating Hormone leads to poor ovarian function and incomplete development at puberty. The ovarian follicles are not properly developed in this case which leads to infertility. When the levels of this hormone are low in blood, it is called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Sufficient FSH levels are needed for full sperm production. The complete absence of FSH causes infertility due to lack of sperm while the partial absence of the hormone can lead to delayed puberty and limited sperm production in men.

Testing of FSH levels

Now that you have realized how important FSH hormone is when it comes to fertility, you may want to check if your blood has the right amount of FSH in it. To do that, your doctor may recommend you to go for FSH level testing which is a simple blood work. You will have to get tested at a certain point of your menstrual cycle, which is usually the third day of the cycle and continue through the fifth day of the cycle. This test will help your doctor determine and diagnose the underlying fertility issues.

Test FSH levels
Test FSH levels before trying for pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If you are concerned with your FSH levels, you should go for FSH level testing. It will help you determine the fertility issue and seek the best treatment for it. Unfortunately, women with high levels of FSH respond poorly to the medication and sometimes they don’t respond at all. It makes it really hard for them to get pregnant. In such cases, the women are advised to go for procedures like IVF to conceive. But if the patient is young then a bit of FSH elevation can still help in maintaining the quality of some eggs.

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Ask the expert and let your concerned specialist help you evaluate your ovarian reserve and let you know the best treatment for your situation

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About the Author

Dr Nivedita Mishra, IVF and Fertility Specialist, Nova IVF Fertility East, Ranchi ...Read More

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