Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
If you are currently going through fertility treatment, than you know how frustrating and time consuming it can sometimes be. There are so many tests, treatments, and procedures that you have to undergo, that it can be hard to keep track of them all. One particular test that you may undergo is to detect follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This may sound like a little alien to you, but actually it is one of the predictors of ovarian reserve. This article outlines the basics of FSH and what it indicates about your fertility.
What is FSH?
FSH is just one of a number of hormones that is secreted by your brain. Inside your brain, located just at the base of your neck, there is a tiny region called the pituitary gland. This gland is responsible for releasing a variety of different hormones, including FSH. FSH hormone is used to help encourage the growth of eggs in women and sperm in men. Without FSH, neither males nor females would be able to procreate.
Ovarian Reserve and Follicle Stimulating Hormone
If you are having troubles conceiving, your health care provider will try to analyze your ovarian reserve. Your ovarian reserve refers to the number of eggs that you have available for fertilization. A high ovarian reserve usually indicates a good number of viable eggs present in your ovaries. A low ovarian reserve may indicate that you have fewer available eggs. In order to test ovarian reserve, many health care professionals rely on measurements of your FSH.
Measurements of FSH can be determined through a simple blood test. Levels of this hormone directly correlate to the number of eggs that you have "on reserve" in your ovaries. By measuring the amount of FSH, your doctor can suggest specific treatments (such as in-vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination) that could help you to conceive. He can also predict how well you may respond to these treatments.
The FSH Testing Procedure
FSH blood tests are generally performed on the second or third day of your menstrual cycle. During this time, FSH can provide the most accurate predictions of ovarian reserve. Estradiol is also most accurate when measured on the second or third day of menstruation.
Interpreting Levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone
Your health care provider will look for a number of things when examining the results of your FSH test. She will first compare your FSH levels to normal baseline results in most women. A normal FSH level is usually under 10, whereas an abnormal level is anything above 25. Measurements between 10 and 25 are generally considered borderline.