Follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, is a reproductive hormone. It’s released by a gland in the brain called the pituitary gland. FSH levels affect the development of eggs in women, and it affects the development of sperm in men.

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Why is FSH important?

In women, the amount of FSH fluctuates during the menstrual cycle. The pituitary gland produces different amounts of FSH during the different phases.

This hormone sends chemical messages through the body to encourage a woman’s ovaries to produce eggs. Without this hormone, she would not produce and release mature eggs, and she would not be able to become pregnant.

In men, the pituitary gland produces FSH. Then the hormone travels to the testicles, where it promotes the development of sperm.

What is a follicle-stimulating hormone test?

An FSH test is a blood test designed to measure the level of FSH in your body.

Why would you need a follicle-stimulating hormone test?

The test can alert you if your FSH levels are too high or too low. Abnormal levels of FSH can indicate a problem, which could point to possible fertility issues.

For example, as women age, the number of eggs they have begins to decrease. The pituitary gland starts working harder to produce an egg. As a result, it produces more FSH.

But that can be a sign that it will be harder for that woman to get pregnant.

If your levels are too high or too low, your healthcare provider can discuss the possible causes and the need for any additional tests.

You and your healthcare provider can also discuss possible treatment options.

What should you expect with a FSH blood test?

A healthcare provider will draw blood, which will go to a lab for testing. Women should schedule the test only on certain days of their menstrual cycle. This will help get the most accurate result.

If you or your partner is having trouble getting pregnant, talk to a healthcare provider about a follicle-stimulating hormone test.

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