The role of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) tests in conception.

What is follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and what role does it play in conception and fertility?

In women, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates the growth and maturation of ovarian follicles during the menstrual cycle.

During the menstrual cycle, FSH plasma levels vary in response to estradiol and progesterone levels.  Shortly before ovulation we observe a significant rise in LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH.  After ovulation, when the follicle has ruptured, the developed corpus luteum secretes estradiol and progesterone.  This decreases the level of LH and FSH back to the low levels prior to ovulation.

As the body ages, it produces less and less estrogen.  FSH levels then increase to 25 miU/ml or more as the hormone tries to stimulate the ovaries to produce a healthy egg.  Therefore, testing for FSH can help determine if a woman’s body produces too much FSH because of low estrogen levels.

An elevated FSH represents a reduced egg supply (number of eggs remaining).  It might also reflect a compromise of egg quality.  A fertility screening test, for instance U-Test Fertility, shows if the FSH levels are higher than expected and can provide useful information to women wanting to fall pregnant or who are concerned about their fertility, ovarian health and function.

When should I do a FSH fertility test?

A FSH fertility test aid women experiencing irregular menstrual cycles or having difficulty to conceive, to determine if this is related to elevated FSH levels or not.  FSH tests help in evaluating menstrual problems, irregular or absent menstrual periods and to evaluate fertility, perimenopause and menopause.

FSH testing for fertility should be carried out on day 3 of the menstrual cycle (2 days after the onset of menstruation).  Use first morning urine as it contains the highest concentration of the FSH hormone.