FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) Testing Fact Sheet
Overview of the Test
FSH or follicle stimulating hormone is released by the pituitary gland. It plays an important role in male and female reproductive health. In women, it helps control the menstrual cycle, stimulate the production of eggs and stimulate production of estradiol (a form of estrogen) during the menstrual cycle. In men, FSH stimulates sperm production.
An FSH test may be recommended for men who have underdeveloped testicles or who are infertile. It may also be advised for women who are infertile, or who suffer with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or irregular bleeding. An FSH test, alongside other hormone tests can also assist with diagnosis for hormone deficiency, infection or genetic disorders such as Turner or Klinefelter syndromes. The FSH test also assists in diagnosis of pituitary gland disorders.
FSH is frequently tested alongside other reproductive hormones such as estrogen and LH (luteinizing hormone) to obtain as much information as possible about reproductive or endocrine health.
Evidence and Science behind the Test
FSH testing is quite complex, as it often requires testing for estradiol in women and testosterone in men. If FSH and estradiol are tested together, there are various interpretations to help doctors make diagnoses. Generally, FSH levels are high and estradiol levels are low during and after menopause. If FSH and estradiol levels are higher than normal, it may be due to hormone treatments or certain types of cancer (including ovarian). In women, low levels of FSH and estradiol suggest problems with the pituitary gland. Low levels also appear in those who are anorexic.
In men, FSH is usually measured with testosterone and if both levels are low, then there is often a problem with the pituitary gland. High levels of FSH can indicate testicular failure, such as through infection, disease, trauma or even developmental defects.
How is it done?
A small blood sample is taken from the arm and sent for analysis. Test results will depend on age and gender and results can be analyzed in different ways.
Who Does It?
Doctors, nurses and other qualified professionals.
When and How Often?
For women, the test may take place on specific days of the menstrual cycle. For men and women it may take place at specific points of fertility treatment.
As part of an IVF ‘cycle’ testing may cost as much as $15,000. The test alone can cost from around $70. It may be covered under health insurance for certain conditions (not usually fertility).
Certain medications such as digitalis and cimetidine may need to stopping before an FSH test. Hormone treatments and contraceptives may also need stopping and those who have had specific tests such as bone scans recently may have to delay the FSH test.
- FSH: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003710.htm
- FSH: http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8670
- Follicle stimulating hormone: http://women.webmd.com/follicle-stimulating-hormone
Last reviewed 26/Feb/2014