FSH Test: What Does it Mean?

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?

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1. What Is FSH?

The FSH test is a test that checks for the levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone, which is a very important reproductive hormone for both men and women. The FSH hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for causing the follicles in the body to grow. In women, FSH is the primary hormone responsible for producing eggs.

                       FSH-is-responsible-for-sperm-production

In men, FSH is responsible for necessary for sperm production. Sometimes, a doctor will want to order an FSH test for several different reasons. For women, FSH tests are ordered to assess infertility problems or irregular menstrual periods. They are also useful for diagnosing diseases of the ovaries or disorders of the pituitary gland. For men, FSH tests are useful for evaluating a man’s low sperm count, assessing hypogonadism or gonadal failure, or assessing testicular dysfunctions.

2. What Is The FSH Test? 

The FSH test is a simple blood test. It might be performed in a laboratory setting, or in a doctor’s office. For women, the FSH test should be performed on the 3rd day of the menstrual cycle. This is because FSH starts the ovulation process by getting a follicle growing.

menstrual-cycle

The FSH level provides information about how hard the body has to work to get this process started. If the ovarian reserve (how many eggs a woman will have left) is low, the body will have to work much harder and FSH levels will be higher. The actual test itself is very simple and very quick, and only involves a little bit of blood work.

3. What The Results Mean

It will usually take a few days for the doctor to receive and interpret the results of the FSH test. A high FSH level may indicate that a woman has ovarian failure or menopause. In men, high FSH results may mean that the testicles are not functioning properly.

ovarian-failure-or-menopause

Contrarily, low FSH levels might mean that a woman is not producing eggs, a man is not producing sperm, the hypothalamus or pituitary gland is not functioning properly, or a tumor could be interfering with the brain’s ability to process FSH values. Another thing to remember is that stress and being very underweight may also affect FSH values. As women get older and begin to lose of her eggs, her FSH levels will begin to increase.

4. More Information

After the FSH test is done and the results are read, the doctor will be able to interpret the results and give advice on what to do next. Sometimes, additional testing might be needed. In some cases, other tests for luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol, and progesterone levels will be given to help better determine a woman’s ovarian reserve.

additional-testing-like-luteinizing-hormone(LH)-needs-to-be-done

There are many different treatment options out there, and fertility treatments are available that can help women who have FSH problems. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or need more information.

Valerie Wisniewski, RN

Ms. Wisniewski has over 15 years experience as a labor and delivery nurse, having also worked previously as a nurse midwife in the Philippines and India. She enjoys empowering women and providing family centered care to women from all cultural and educational backgrounds.