Health Tips from a Mother of Three

Questions About FSH

There are multiple hormones that govern the reproductive cycle. Some hormones, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), have a role in both the male and female body. Here are a questions and answers about FSH to help you better understand it:

Where is it produced?

The pituitary gland produces FSH. Thus, it is not directly produced by the reproductive organs.

What is the role of FSH in women?

For women, the hormone helps control egg production and consequently, the menstrual cycle. Throughout a woman's cycle, varying amounts of FSH is present. However, immediately before ovulation, a surge of FSH heralds the release of the egg.

What is the role of FSH in men?

For men, FSH is involved in sperm production, but the amount of FSH does not usually surge and decline in a male's body.

Why are FSH levels important when determining the cause of infertility?

If a couple is having trouble trying to conceive, it may be due to a problem with sperm counts or egg production. If FSH levels are too low, it could indicate for a woman that ovulation is not occurring properly. Additionally, a decline in FSH levels could result in a lack of menstrual periods.

In a man, low levels may be associated with a low sperm count.

Can medications alter the results of an FSH test?

If you are taking certain medications, such as clomiphene, your FSH results could be wrong. In order to get true results, you may have to stop taking medication that stimulates egg production or release. In addition, you may have to avoid drugs that contain progesterone or estrogen. 

How is an FSH test performed?

FSH is tested from a blood sample. Your blood is drawn and placed in tube for lab analysis. Women may have to have several samples drawn on different days of their menstrual cycle.

Women should have the lowest level of FSH present during the follicular and luteal phases of their cycle. Additionally, the mid-cycle surge that is associated with ovulation should show an increase in LSH. If a woman's FSH results are much higher than the acceptable range, it could indicate that menopause has started, or the ovaries have failed.

The FSH value in men is compared to an acceptable range, but variations are not expected.

To learn more about FSH and its role in your reproductive health, schedule an appointment with your physician or a clinic such as Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine.