FSH test stands for Follicle Stimulating Hormone test. It measures the level of FSH in the blood. A hormone is responsible for controlling certain organs and it affects our bodies. FSH is released by the pituitary gland and can be found in both men and women.
For couples trying to reproduce, when the bodies are not making enough of this hormone then it becomes harder for reproduction to take place. Similarly, having too much FSH in the body can also lead to problems. Therefore, the FSH test is done.
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How is the test done?
An FSH test is done by drawing a sample of blood using a small needle. The process of drawing blood typically takes five minutes or less. There are no risks associated with the test as such. You might feel slight pain when the needle is inserted into your skin.
Why do you need it?
A doctor might suggest an FSH blood test for any of the following reasons:
- If you are unable to get pregnant, this test is suggested. It helps identify the cause of infertility.
- If women are facing irregular menstrual periods. If a woman finds that her periods aren’t happening during the time of the month it normally happens or if their periods have stopped, then this test is suggested by doctors.
- An FSH test is also suggested by doctors if there are any problems associated with ovarian functions.
- If men have a low sperm count, they are suggested to get this test done.
- If kids undergo early or late puberty, doctors suggest this test to identify problems related to the hypothalamus, ovaries, and testicles, among other parts of the body. This test will help diagnose early or late puberty as well.
You might require an FSH test if you have any of the following symptoms of the pituitary disorder as well:
- Fatigue: If you feel exhausted without doing anything or if you lack energy, you might have fatigue.
- Weakness: If you feel weak at any given point while doing something, it might be a symptom of a pituitary disorder.
- Weight loss: If you find yourself losing a lot of weight without doing activities intended to lose weight, it can be a symptom.
- Appetite: If you notice that your appetite is slowly decreasing day by day, it can be a sign of pituitary disorder among many other reasons as well.
The symptoms stated above are common to both men and women.
In terms of fertility, these tests are designed primarily to check for reasons related to infertility. FSH blood test works as follows:
- In layman’s terms, FSH informs the eggs in the ovaries of a woman’s body to grow. As a result of this action, estrogen is released.
- As the eggs grow bigger inside the body, they release more and more estrogen as required. As the levels of estrogen increase, it stimulates the reproductive system to slow down Follicle Stimulating Hormone release.
- If the eggs are not seen to mature and release adequate amounts of estrogen, then the FSH levels will not drop.
- To counter the previous point, a woman’s body is designed in such a way to produce more and more FSH so that it can help stimulate the development of the egg in the body.
What do your test results mean?
If the FSH test reveals low levels of FSH in women, it means the following:
- The pituitary gland is not functioning as it normally should.
- The ovaries are not producing enough eggs as required.
- If the pituitary gland is not functioning normally, it is indicative of issues related to the hypothalamus.
- Having low FSH levels can also indicate that the woman is underweight.
If the FSH blood test reveals high levels of FSH in women, it can mean any of the following:
- POI: POI stands for Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. This refers to the loss of ovarian function before 40 years of age.
- PCOS: PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is one of the most common reasons for female infertility. This is known to affect childbearing women.
If the FSH test reveals low levels of FSH in men, it can mean the following:
- It can indicate a disorder of the pituitary gland or the gland that ensures the body is in a stable state, the hypothalamus.
If the FSH blood test reveals high levels of FSH in men, it can mean any of the following:
- Your testicles may have been damaged leading to infertility. This can be caused by alcohol abuse and radiation among many other reasons.
- You might have a syndrome called Klinefelter syndrome which is known to be a common cause of infertility.
The FSH test results can be interpreted in several ways. For an adult male, the results must be between 1.5mlU/mL and 2.4mlU/mL. While for a female who still menstruates, it must be around 4.7mlU/mL to 21.5mlU/mL. However, for a female who has already reached the menopause state, their levels must be at 25.8mlU/mL to 134.8mlU/mL.