Friday, March 26th, 2010

Follicle Stimulating Hormone

next-generation-blood-test_1In the previous issue, we discussed LH—Lutenizing hormone. Lutenizing hormone works synergistically with FSH, a hormone synthesized and secreted by gonadotropes in pituitary gland in reproduction. In women as the name suggests this hormone is important in the development of follicles (eggs) produced by the ovaries. FSH is also important in the development of sperm.

The need

  • FSH is often used in conjunction with other tests in the workup of infertility in both men and women.
  • FSH levels are used to help determine the reason a man has a low sperm count.
  • FSH levels are also useful in the investigation of menstrual irregularities and to aid in the diagnosis of pituitary disorders or diseases involving the ovaries or testes.
  • In children, FSH and LH are used to diagnose delayed or precocious (early) puberty

FSH hormone is low during childhood and is high during menopause.

High levels of FSH

Put simply, the brain releases FSH when it wants the ovaries to mature an egg; as the ovaries choose and mature the egg, hormone products from the ovaries signal the brain to decrease the release of FSH. That means FSH levels vary during the course of the cycle.

The most appropriate time to investigate FSH is on day 2 or 3 after the period begins

Normal results

  • Normal FSH test results vary according to age and sexual maturity. The phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle or use of birth-control pills also affects test results.
  • FSH levels fluctuate during pre menopause. If no other symptoms are present, an elevated FSH level should not be interpreted as proof that menopause has begun.

Abnormal results

Anorexia nervosa, a disorder in which people starve to stay thin and disorders of the hypothalamus—the part of the brain that controls endocrine system or pituitary gland can result in abnormally low FSH levels.

Abnormal levels can also indicate:

  •  Infertility
  • Hypopituitarism—underactivity of the pituitary gland
  • Klinefelter syndrome (in men)– Chromosomal abnormality characterized by small testes and male infertility.
  • Turner syndrome– Chromosomal abnormality characterized by immature reproductive organs in women.
  • Ovarian failure
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome—A condition in which ovaries have cysts.
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