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What Is Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)? Does It Indicate Fertility?

What is Follicle Stimulating Hormone?


One of the two gonadotropic hormones and an important part of the reproductive system, follicle stimulating hormone functions to support the growth of ovarian follicles. These follicles are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries that in turn help regulate the menstrual cycle in women. It is not that there are FSH levels in women only, FSH levels in men are responsible for the development of the gonads and production of sperm.


FSH, along with LH (Luteinising hormone), are released into your blood stream from the pituitary gland. Test for measuring FSH measures the levels of follicle stimulating hormone in your blood. If you’re exhibiting any symptoms that are affecting your reproductive system, your doctor may order an FSH test to find the underlying cause behind the symptoms.


FSH Levels & Fertility


FSH and LH levels play a crucial role in pubertal functions and are responsible for males’ testes and females’ ovaries. Follicle stimulating hormone functions in a way that helps support the growth of ovarian follicles in a woman’s ovary before the egg is released. This process is also known as increasing oestradiol production.


In males, however, Follicle stimulating hormone acts on the Sertoli cells of a male’s testes. This process of stimulating sperm production is also known as spermatogenesis. A Follicle stimulating hormone is a major catalyst in our reproductive health and any imbalance in the FSH levels in women leads to infertility issues. Let’s understand what causes high FSH levels in women and how imbalanced FSH levels affect a woman’s body as far as reproductive health is concerned.


If you’re wondering what is a normal FSH level to get pregnant is, let us help you with this information. For any woman trying to conceive, the FSH levels should be around 10mlU/ml. since FSH plays a critical role in regulating your menstrual cycle and controls the ovulation process, any imbalance in FSH levels makes it much more challenging to get pregnant.


FSH is also responsible for stimulating ovarian function. It is normal for women experiencing premature menopause to have higher levels of FSH hormones. This helps them have a healthy ovarian function irrespective of the low estrogen levels.


High FSH Levels in Blood


Wondering what causes high FSH levels in blood? More than often, high FSH levels are a clear sign of any malfunction in the ovaries and testis in males and females. The levels of FSH and LH will automatically rise if the gonads fail to secrete adequate levels of testosterone and estrogen. In scientific terms, this condition is also referred to as hypergonadotropic-hypogonadism. This indicates the primary inadequacy of ovarian function or testicular failure.


Before understanding what causes high FSH levels, let’s first see the signs and symptoms:

  • High FSH levels are directly linked to not producing quality eggs for fertilization. Fertility keeps declining with old age and there are fewer eggs in the ovaries at a mature age.
  • High FSH levels are an indicator of you reaching an early menopause stage.
  • A higher number of FSH levels are also linked with ovarian failure, a loss of healthy ovarian function.
  • Chromosomal abnormality


Low FSH Levels in Blood


Just as high FSH levels in women are a cause of concern, low FSH levels are also a health challenge. Lower levels of the FSH hormone also cause poor ovarian function and make the development at puberty incomplete. If the ovarian follicles are inadequately or not completely developed, it leads to infertility. Low FSH levels in the blood are a condition known as hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Since adequate FSH levels are crucial for sperm development in men, a complete absence of FSH causes infertility in men due to a lack of sperm and a partial absence of FSH levels in men leads to delayed puberty and inadequate sperm production.


Normal FSH Levels in Females & Males


If you’re experiencing signs and symptoms of abnormal FSH levels or having fertility issues, your doctor may order a blood test to measure FSH levels in the blood. A person’s normal FSH and LH levels by age differ during their lifetime. Here are guidelines for normal FSH ranges in females at different stages of life.


Life Stage Normal FSH Levels
Before Puberty 0–4 IU/L
During Puberty 0.3–10 IU/L
While Menstruating 4.7–21.5 IU/L
After Menopause 25.8–134.8 IU/L


If a female hasn’t had periods in over a year and their FSH levels are 30IU/L and more, they’ve probably reached the menopause stage. A doctor doesn’t need to order any test for the diagnosis of menopause, a look at the symptoms and assessing the medical history can confirm the same.


A male’s normal FSH levels are different from that of a female during different stages of life. Here’s a simple chart to understand the same:

Life Stage Normal FSH Levels
Before Puberty 0–5 IU/L
During Puberty 0.3–10 IU/L
Adulthood 1.5–12.4 IU/L


These test ranges and their normal levels differ from one laboratory to another based on the location, the kind of test performed, and other factors.


Wrapping Up!


However, when looked at from a broader perspective, your FSH levels alone can’t tell your doctor much about infertility issues. Resultantly, FSH levels have to be looked at along with LH and estrogen levels. Treatment for high FSH levels in females depends on the menstrual history, medical history, other test parameters, and the desired outcome of the treatment. do visit your fertility specialist today if you are having trouble getting pregnant or else.

Dr. Namrata Kachhara
Gynaecology & Obstetrics
Meet The Doctor
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