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Definition:

FSH stands for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone is released by the anterior pituitary gland.

In women, FSH stimulates production of eggs and a hormone called estradiol during the first half of the menstrual cycle.

In men, FSH stimulates production of sperm.

This article discusses the test to check the level of FSH in the blood.



Alternative Names:

Follicle stimulating hormone



How the test is performed:

Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.

Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.

Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.



How to prepare for the test:

If you are a woman of childbearing age, your health care provider may want you to obtain the blood test on certain days of your menstrual cycle.



How the test will feel:

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.



Why the test is performed:

Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of certain reproductive or pituitary disorders.



Normal Values:
  • Male
    • Before puberty: 0-5.0 IU/L*
    • During puberty: 0.3-10.0 IU/L
    • Adult: 1.5-12.4 IU/L
  • Female:
    • Before puberty: 0-5.0 IU/L
    • During puberty: 0.3-10.0 IU/L
    • Follicular phase of the menstrual cycle: 3.5-12.5 IU/L
    • Mid-cycle: 4.7-21.5 IU/L
    • Luteal phase of the menstrual cycle: 1.7-7.7 IU/L
    • Postmenopausal: 25.8-134.8 IU/L

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

* IU/L = international units per liter



What abnormal results mean:

Disorders that may be associated with abnormal FSH results include:

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

What the risks are:

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)



Review Date: 8/18/2007
Reviewed By: Melanie N. Smith, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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