Spotlight on Hormones: FSH
What exactly is the Follicle Stimulating Hormone, or FSH, and what does it have to do with our menstrual cycle and fertility?
In this post, we’ll help you understand how this crucial hormone contributes to both women and men’s reproductive health.
And if you discover your FSH levels are high, we’ll also provide a few natural tips to get yourself back in balance.
What is the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)?
Essentially, the FSH, along with the LI (Luteinizing Hormone), is a hormone that’s released into our bloodstream by the pituitary gland. This hormone has many purposes and is especially important during stages of our puberty.
After the puberty stage, however, it still has work to do. In women, the FSH stimulates the follicles that line the ovaries where the egg lies. In men, it stimulates sperm production.
How FSH affects fertility
Because FSH plays a major part in our pubertal development and also has a huge role in our reproductive system, this hormone can cause many disruptions if not kept in check.
Women may experience:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Men may experience:
- Low sex drive
- Low muscle mass
- Low sperm count and quality
When you should get an FSH test
You and your physician could see any of these symptoms, which may indicate issues with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. Getting results from an FSH test can–first and foremost–determine more serious disorders that could arise from our pituitary gland, ovaries, or testicles.
If a couple is having difficulty starting a family, both the man and woman should get their FSH tested. And when it comes to an IVF procedure, the FSH test can provide information about the quality of your eggs and if/how fast your ovaries are aging. And knowing this can determine the success of the procedure.
For women, an FSH test can help determine if there is premature ovarian failure (POF), poor egg quality, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), or early stages of menopause. It is a major determining factor as to whether you’d be a good candidate for IVF (ie. Whether it’s likely to work or not).
For men, an FSH test can determine a low sperm count, testicular dysfunction, hypogonadism, or gonadal failure.
An FSH test can even be performed on adolescents or children who experience early or delayed puberty. The reason for this is to check-in on the hypothalamus.
You can obtain results from either a urine test or blood test, although a blood test is more common. An FSH blood test is taken within the first few days of a woman’s menstrual cycle (usually cycle day 2 or 3) for accuracy. If taken later in the cycle then it’s not an accurate indicator of ovarian health. In short, for women the timing matters.
Understanding FSH Results
High FSH levels at a 10 or above can be a normal factor of age. Generally, high FSH levels complicate fertility issues. But it can also be a factor of toxin exposure, autoimmune disease, or chemotherapy.
Low FSH levels are common in women who have PCOS. But it could also indicate more serious issues such as secondary ovarian failure (again, due to pituitary and hypothalamic disorders.)
How to lower FSH levels naturally
Most fertility issues arise out of high FSH levels. Hormone therapy by injections can boost low testosterone levels in men, however, this does take time (possibly a year or longer).
But at Naturna, we recommend an all-around lifestyle change. Acupuncture, nutrition, herbs and supplements are natural methods that both women and men can benefit from to improve their fertility. Using the above for detoxification and stress reduction can be game changers high FSH and fertility in general.
Male factors make up half of the equation when it comes to conceiving. And poor sperm quality is a main culprit. Acupuncture treatment for men can provide aid to increase sperm density and sperm motility significantly.
So if you’re a couple who’s been trying for quite some time, get those FSH tests completed. If you discover your FSH levels are a bit off, get in touch with our practitioners. We can help!