Treatment for High FSH

Getting Pregnant with Your Own Eggs Is Possible, Even with High FSH

FSH is a hormone released by the pituitary gland. Abnormally high FSH is a symptom of diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) or premature ovarian aging (POA), both of which are conditions that can make getting pregnant naturally very difficult.

But even with high FSH, many women can conceive if given proper treatment. Over the last 15 years, hundreds of women with diminished ovarian reserve have received high FSH treatment at CHR and ended up conceiving with their own eggs via an IVF protocol specifically developed for women with abnormally poor ovarian reserve.

Don’t Be Discouraged By a Poor IVF Prognosis

Dr. Gleicher explains why many patients actually have better pregnancy chances than they’re told.

DHEA: How CHR Increases Pregnancy Chances for Women with High FSH

"Many of our colleagues believe that DOR is untreatable. We really do not believe that."

Center For Human Reproduction: Dr. Norbert Gleicher, best fertility specialist in the US Dr. Norbert Gleicher

A central component of CHR’s successful approach to fertility treatment for women with high FSH is supplementation with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) prior to IVF. Through extensive research, CHR has been able to demonstrate that DHEA supplementation for at least 6 weeks before start of an IVF cycle can dramatically increase IVF pregnancy chances in women with high FSH. This is achieved through an androgen-rich ovarian environment that DHEA helps restore in women with DOR or POA.

A small-scale clinical trial from Israel also confirmed that DHEA supplementation is an effective treatment for diminished ovarian reserve, indicated by high FSH levels. We have also elucidated how this improvement in pregnancy rates is achieved by DHEA supplementation: DHEA “rejuvenates” the environment in the ovaries where eggs go through the final maturation process before ovulation.

Learn Whether Treatment at CHR is Right for You

To learn more about treatment for high FSH at CHR, call us at (212) 994-4400 or (212) 933-5700, or contact us online.

Treating the Cause, Not the Symptom

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CHR practically never refuses fertility treatment to women, as long as FSH levels aren't in the menopausal range. To women with very high FSH, our physicians explain relatively low pregnancy chances if they tried with their own eggs, in contrast to the superior pregnancy chances with donor eggs, even in older women. If patients, after giving fully informed consent, still wish to "give it a try" before moving on to egg donation, CHR will not withhold IVF treatment solely based on elevated FSH levels.

Most patients come to CHR after having been turned away by other centers, or after having failed multiple IVF cycles elsewhere. We routinely hear that they were told "that their FSH needs to come down before they can try IVF." This is a somewhat silly argument, because high FSH is merely a symptom, and not the disease. For optimal results, one needs to treat the disease, which is the patient's diminished ovarian reserve.

This is precisely CHR's approach in treating women with diminished ovarian reserve when placing them on DHEA supplementation. In this sense, calling DHEA supplementation a "treatment for high FSH levels" is a misnomer; it’s a treatment for diminished ovarian reserve.

With this approach, CHR has been able to achieve impressive IVF pregnancy rates, despite our center's adversely selected patient population with a large number of women with severely diminished ovarian reserve and high FSH. We suggest you look at our IVF pregnancy rates for the last year in this patient population, and you will be astonished!

IVF with High FSH Levels

The success of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle depends largely on the patient's ability to produce a good number of high-quality eggs. In attempts to predict the probability of a patient’s IVF cycle being successful, CHR’s medical team might run a number of tests to assess her ovarian reserve, including:

  • Blood tests for FSH levels
  • Blood tests for AMH (anti-Müllerian hormone) levels
  • Antral follicle counts (AFCs) - the number of small follicles at the start of a menstrual cycle, which is assessed with a transvaginal ultrasound.

What Do High FSH Levels Mean for IVF?

High FSH levels, as well as abnormally low AMH and/or AFCs, denote a relatively poor fertility prognosis and low probability of success with IVF. Learn more about interpreting your FSH levels.

But getting pregnant with your own eggs is still possible at CHR. We have over 30 years of experience treating women with high FSH and diminished ovarian reserve, many of whom have had multiple failed IVF cycles elsewhere or have been rejected by another center due to a poor prognosis. By using individualized ovarian stimulation protocols that are tailored to each patient, we’re able to offer treatment options for older patients who wish to become pregnant using their own eggs.

Egg donation is also an option for these patients, but at CHR, the final decision is always up to the patient.

Read more about High FSH

What is High FSH?

FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is a hormone released by the pituitary gland...

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Interpreting Your Levels

A few years ago, CHR's research established age-specific levels of FSH and AMH...

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infertility physician

Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.

Follow Dr. Norbert Gleicher on Google+ Center for Human Reproduction: Follow us on Google+. IVF center with best fertility options for each infertility patient. or LinkedIn Center for Human Reproduction: Follow us on Google+. IVF center with best fertility options for each infertility patient.

Last Updated: October 8, 2018

Additional Resources

Why CHR is such a different fertility center Fertility center with a unique institutional structure When looking at what differentiates fertility centers, all starts with ownership and ...


Why does CHR not use the antral follicle count (AFC)? Many colleagues, especially in Europe, frequently use the so-called antral follicle count (AFC) to assess functional ovarian reserve (FOR). ...

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1/3 of women who have been told they need egg donation actually wind up conceiving at the CHR with their own eggs.