Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is an integral part of the reproductive system in both men and women. It’s made by the pituitary gland and helps menstrual cycle regulation along with the production of estrogen and progesterone in women and controls sperm production in men.
Because FSH is tied so closely to reproductive health, too much or too little of this hormone can cause problems with fertility. That’s why our team led by Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS, and David Barad, MD, MS, FACOG, at the Center for Human Reproduction located on the Upper East Side of New York, New York, offers FSH tests to examine you and your partner’s hormone levels and make an appropriate fertility treatment plan.
In this blog, we discuss more about this hormone and how it plays into successful fertility treatments.
What do FSH levels tell you?
Your FSH levels are going to vary widely depending on your age and sex organs. As you age, your FSH levels actually increase. For women, they continue to rise until they reach their peak levels after menopause. In men, however, they climb until you become an adult when they become stable.
Most often, high levels of FSH show issues with your ovaries or testes. If your ovaries can’t produce estrogen or your testes can’t produce enough testosterone, your pituitary gland overcompensates and produces more FSH. This leads to what’s called primary hypogonadism, which is closely associated with both primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and testicular failure.
Low levels of FSH can tell us that there’s either a problem with your pituitary gland or hypothalamus, which is why there aren't typical levels of the hormone in your body.
What to expect from an FSH test
Your FSH levels are tested through a blood sample rather than a urine test. Men can have this test done at any time. However, FSH levels are highest in women right before ovulation, so women need to have this test done about 2-3 days into their menstrual cycle when those hormone levels are on the rise.
Make sure to let our team know about any medications you’re taking, such as birth control, and tell us about any other health conditions you have, such as ovarian cysts or uncontrolled thyroid disease since these things can affect your levels.
What to do with your FSH test results
After we get your test results, our team will go over each piece with you. If you’re a man with high FSH levels, it indicates that your testicles aren’t functioning properly or that they’ve been damaged by an underlying disease or other medical treatment like chemotherapy.
If you’re a woman with high FSH levels, it may signal that you’ve lost ovarian function, you’re going through menopause, or you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), all of which affect fertility.
Your test results simply give us an explanation of what steps to take next. We have significantly high pregnancy success rates because we don’t simply dismiss your case due to low or high FSH levels.
Our team would love to talk through all your fertility treatment options with you. For example, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a great option for couples struggling with abnormal FSH levels.
To set up a consultation for FSH-level testing, contact our team by giving us a call at 626-385-7918 or by using our online scheduler today.