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A luteinizing hormone blood test measures the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the bloodstream. LH, also known as gonadotropin, is produced by the pituitary gland in the underside of the brain.

It is important for the reproductive organs in both men and women.

In women, LH helps regulate both ovulation and the menstrual cycle. In men, LH plays a critical role for sperm production.

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Why is a luteinizing hormone blood test important?

A luteinizing hormone blood test is used to evaluate the causes of the following issues:

  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Suspected menopause
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Sperm count
  • Early or delayed puberty
  • Low testosterone levels in men

Early detection of abnormal LH levels is important so you can begin treatment, if necessary.

What should you expect with a luteinizing hormone blood test?

A luteinizing hormone blood test requires a blood sample. You may be asked for a blood sample on consecutive days. A healthcare provider will ask you to stop taking medicine that contains estrogen or progesterone in advance of your LH test.

Be sure to provide your healthcare provider with a complete list of your medications and supplements. Also mention any tests or procedures you’ve had received. If you’re a woman, your healthcare provider may ask you to provide the last day of your most recent period.

What do the luteinizing hormone blood test results mean?

The normal range for LH varies with gender. A normal result for an adult woman before menopause is from 5 to 25 IU/L (international units per liter). Menstrual cycle increases the LH level. For women with menopause, the normal range is between 14.2 to 52.3 IU/L For men older than age 18, the normal range is 1.8 to 8.6 IU/L.

A higher than normal luteinizing hormone level can indicate several issues.

For women, they may be:

  • Irregular functioning of the ovaries, including onset of menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Absence of ovaries
  • Early puberty in girls
  • Effects from chemotherapy
  • Genetic abnormalities, such as Turner syndrome

For men, they may indicate:

  • Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic condition
  • Absence of testicles
  • Abnormal functioning of the testicles, due to injury, illness or chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune disorders

Low LH values may indicate pituitary gland failure, anorexia nervosa, low body weight or hypopituitarism.

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