Follicle Stimulating Hormone Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The follicle stimulating hormone or FSH is produced by the body’s pituitary gland and is found in both men and women. The FSH test can help to identify if the testicles in men and ovaries in women are functioning efficiently. Results of this test can help to identify the cause of infertility.

The FSH is responsible for the production of eggs by the ovaries in women and the production of sperm in men. It is also responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle in women. A low sperm count and a deficit in the woman’s egg supply from the ovaries can be some of the reasons for infertility.

In addition to indentifying the cause of infertility, testing FSH levels can also be used to

  • Identify the cause amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is condition that causes irregular menstrual periods or absence of a menstrual period in women.
  • Identify precocious puberty, which basically means that a child is going through puberty at an earlier age.
  • Identify the cause for non-developing sexual features that cause a delay in puberty.
  • Identify disorders of the pituitary gland.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone Test Procedure

The test involves measuring the amount of FSH in a sample of blood. The health care professional will tie an elastic band around the upper arm to restrict blood flow, following which they insert a needle into the vein in the arm to collect the blood sample. Once the sample has been collected, a cotton swab dipped in antiseptic alcohol is given, which needs to be kept pressed at the site of the prick.

It is important to inform your doctor about any existing medication before taking an FSH test. The doctor may ask the individual to stop birth control medications for at least 4 weeks before the test is performed.

Reading Values fromTest

Normal FSH values for men, women, and children are as follows:

  • Menstruating women: 5-20 IU/L during the follicular phase and 30-50 IU/L during the mid-cycle peak.
  • Women who have already had menopause: 50 IU/L or more
  • Men: 5-15 IU/L
  • Children before they reach puberty: 6 IU/L or less

High or low FSH values may be an indication of an abnormality.

Elevated FSH levels in women could mean any of the following:

  • Ovarian failure or the loss of ovarian function before menopause.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Menopause.

Elevated FSH levels in men could mean any of the following:

  • The individual has Kilnefelter Syndrome.
  • Absence of testicles or malfunctioning of the testicles.

Low FSH values could be due to:

  • Ovulation problems in women due to which they are unable to produce eggs.
  • Malfunctioning hypothalamus or pituitary gland.
  • Stress.
  • Starvation leading to the body becoming underweight.

It is important to know that the values of FSH can vary for individuals who smoke or use birth control pills. The values also vary with age.