FSH is produced in the pituitary gland and, for women, controls the production of eggs and generally is a constant number range in the body. It also regulates the woman’s monthly cycle. FSH is short for the follicle stimulating hormone and is similar in both men and women in what it is used for and how it is tested. It is checked via a simple blood test.
The FSH test can be ordered to check for fertility issues, menstruation irregularities, possible reproductive organ disorders, pituitary disorders, and for a check in menopause or early puberty symptoms. This level of FSH (the follicle stimulating hormone) in the blood can determine the hormone status in the body.
If the patient is a child it can be used to test if the child is entering puberty or not and whether it is too late or too early for this. If the child is having symptoms that include breast growth or the beginning of the monthly cycle then they can check this FSH hormone in the body and see if they are entering puberty.
If the FSH level is raised or elevated it could be a sign of ovarian failure in the patient, whether a development defect or by injury. Some of the defects could include Turners syndrome, ovarian failure, trauma, chemotherapy, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), or even autoimmune disease. The FSH level will be lower if the patient’s pituitary gland is not working properly or if the hypothalamus (where other hormone regulating systems are) is not functioning like it should.
The FSH test doesn’t have a standard range of reference. It is based on the age, gender, test method, and other various values to come up with a range. Your test should specify this range. Whether you are higher or lower than this range of normalcy your doctor will decide and let you know of the results. However, that being said, in general for women who are still having their periods the normal range is between 5-30 mIU/mL. For women going through menopause or postmenopausal the range is between 50-100 mIU/mL.
FSH testing can be skewed depending on a number of things. The levels of FSH in the body will increase if the patient is taking cimetidine, clomiphene, digitalis, and levodopa. The levels of FSH in the body will decrease with any oral contraceptives, phenothiazines, and hormone treatments. Your test results will not be correct if you have had any nuclear medicine scans (especially those that use a “tracer”) lately as well, because the radioisotopes will mess up the results. Please schedule your test with this in mind. There are some over the counter test kits for this available, many of which are online, but remember that you will either need to test more than once to see if the result is accurate, or you will still need to go to the doctor to get proper documentation if the result is positive for an increase or decrease.