An FSH test is an important indicator of health in men, women and children. Doctors commonly use FSH in conjunction with other tests to determine a patient's fertility. Physicians also use this test to aid in diagnosing pituitary and gonadal disorders. An FSH indicates the quality of a woman's eggs, according to a study by the Lister Fertility Clinic, as published in the National Library of Medicine. Medical laboratories measure FSH levels through a blood sample or urine test.
Primary Ovarian Failure
FSH tests are effective in differentiating the cause of ovarian failure. Primary ovarian failure describes a condition where the ovaries themselves fail. In contrast, scientists define ovaries that fail due to problems with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus as being in secondary ovarian failure. High levels of FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone, and LH are consistent with primary ovarian failure, according to LabTestsOnline.org
Developmental defects sometimes cause primary ovarian failure resulting in high FSH levels. Some developmental defects include failure to develop ovaries, or ovarian agenesis, and chromosomal abnormalities. Defects within the ovaries, such as stunted steroid production, also cause primary ovarian failure and the resulting high FSH test results.
Premature Ovarian Failure
A woman may suffer premature ovarian failure, resulting in high FSH levels. She may experience these difficulties as a result of exposure to radiation or chemotherapy. Some autoimmune diseases, like AIDS, may cause ovaries to fail prematurely.
Chronic Failure to Ovulate
A woman's FSH will rise in response to primary ovarian failure due to a chronic failure to ovulate. Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, adrenal disease and thyroid disease cause this condition, known as anovulation. Ovarian tumours also cause a failure to ovulate, resulting in primary ovarian failure and high FSH. Post-menopausal women will experience a rise in FSH.
Primary Testicular Failure in Men
High FSH levels in men are consistent with primary testicular failure. Developmental defects, like the failure to develop gonads and chromosomal abnormalities, cause primary testicular failure and the resulting high FSH. Environmental causes of primary testicular failure include viral infections, especially mumps, trauma, radiation, chemotherapy and autoimmune disorders. Germ cell tumours may cause primary testicular failure and high FSH.
Precocious Puberty in Children
FSH testing is helpful in diagnosing children, especially girls, who seem to be reaching puberty at a young age. These children develop secondary sexual organs earlier than other kids. A scientist calls this condition precocious puberty and an FSH test helps the doctor develop a treatment plan. Physicians must treat central nervous system lesions and tumours that cause high FSH levels and signs of precocious puberty. Normal FSH levels in children exhibiting precocious puberty indicate a benign form of the disorder which needs no treatment.