FSH stands for Follicle Stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland found in the brain. The pituitary gland is almost a size of a pea but has a significant role in sexual development. An FSH test is performed to monitor the level of hormones present in the blood.
The level of FSH is low in kids but as soon as the child reaches puberty (between 10 to 14 years), it starts producing GnRH hormone(Gonadotropin-releasing hormone). GnRH is responsible for sexual maturity. Further GnRH instructs the pituitary gland to release puberty hormones in the blood namely the Luteinizing hormone and FSH. The doctor often asks to get both tests done simultaneously.
If your doctor has advised you to get the FSH test done, then here are 7 things that you should know before visiting the lab.
The function of FSH-
Follicle Stimulating hormones play an important role in sexual development. In women, it is responsible for the development of ovarian follicles which further produce hormones called estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for preparing the female body for menstruation and maintaining the menstrual cycle.
In men, FSH is responsible for the development of gonads and sperm production. LH and FSH together are responsible for the production of testosterone, the hormone which leads to physical changes in boys during puberty.
LH and FSH work in close association and thus doctors often ask to get both tests done to get a better picture of the problems affecting the reproductive system.
Purpose of the FSH Test in Men and Women-
An FSH blood test is performed for both men and women. However, the reason for getting the test done can differ in both:
FSH Test in Women
FSH test in women is primarily done to-
- Detect infertility issues
- To detect pituitary gland disorder
- To diagnose disease related to ovaries
- To assess the irregularity in menstrual cycles
- To determine the beginning of menopause or perimenopause.
FSH Test in Men
FSH test in men is primarily done to-
- Detect testicular dysfunction
- Diagnose gonadal failure or hypogonadism
- Monitor the sperm count, if low
- To find the cause of infertility
When is an FSH-level test required?
In the case of women following are the symptoms when you should get an FSH blood test done:
- Delay in pregnancy after trying for 12 months.
- Irregularity in the menstrual cycle
- At the time of Menopause
In the case of men following are the symptoms when you should get an FSH test done:
- When you are unable to get your partner pregnant after trying for 12 months.
- Decrease in sex drive
Moreover, in case of the following symptoms due to pituitary disorder both men and women should get FSH tests done:
- Decreased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
In the case of children, FSH is needed if puberty does not start at the right age.
What happens in the FSH levels test?
FSH is a type of blood test, thus blood samples are collected by an authorized medical professional by inserting a needle into the veins of the arm. A small quantity of blood is collected in a vial or closed test tube and it is sent for further proceedings. The entire process takes approximately five minutes. You might feel a little dizziness or bruise in the area from where blood is taken from.
What do the reports mean?
The interpretation of the result varies from person to person and it depends on age and gender as well. However, doctors will be able to predict the result more appropriately.
Primarily, a High level of FSH in women may indicate-
- Ovarian tumor
- Menopause or Perimenopause
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency(POI), also known as premature ovarian failure means loss of avian function before 40 years of age.
- Turner syndrome- A genetic disorder in females that obstruct sexual development and causes infertility.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS)- It is a hormonal disorder which is the primary cause of infertility and abnormal menstrual cycle.
Low levels of FSH in women indicate-
- Malfunctioning of the pituitary gland
- Ovaries are not producing enough eggs
- Issue with hypothalamus
High levels of FSH in men indicate:
- Problems in testicles due to radiation, alcoholism, infection or chemotherapy
- Klinefelter syndrome- A genetic disorder in the male that obstructs sexual development and causes infertility
A low level of FSH in men might indicate pituitary gland disorder or hypothalamus disorder.
High levels of FSH along with LH in children indicate the start of puberty. However, if this fluctuation is seen before the age of 9 or 10 then it might indicate-
- Brain injury
- Central Nervous system disorder
Low levels of FSH and luteinizing hormone in children may indicate delayed puberty. It can happen due to:
- Hormone deficiency
- Turner syndrome in girls
- Ovarian or testicles disorder
- Diet issue
- Klinefelter syndrome in boys
FSH test is a common blood test that most of us are asked to get done by our doctors at some point in life. It is safe and done on the recommendations of the healthcare professional.