FSH stands for Follicle Stimulating Hormone, produced in the pituitary gland. In women it stimulates the production of eggs in the ovaries, in men, the production of sperm. A blood test is carried out by a health-care professional to establish levels of FSH. Tests to evaluate FSH levels are performed if a patient shows signs of reproductive or pituitary gland disorders. The test is used to evaluate fertility in men and women, signs of early sexual development in young children and abnormal menstrual patterns in women. The test may also be used to confirm whether a woman has entered menopause.
Read the results of your test carefully. FSH levels will vary depending on your age and gender. In prepubescent male children, levels of FSH will be between 0 and 5.0 International Units per Liter, or IU/L. During puberty this rises to 0.3 IU/L to 10.0 IU/L. For girls, levels of FSH before puberty are normally 0 IU/L to 4.0 IU/L, altering to between 0.3 IU/L and 10.0 IU/L during female puberty.
Compare your results alongside those which are stated as being healthy for your gender and age. Normal levels of FSH for adult males lie between 1.5 IU/L to 12.4 IU/L -- or 5 to 20 Milli International Units per millilitre -- mIU/ml. For menstruating women, normal levels are 3.5 IU/L to 3.0 IU/L, or 5 mlU/ml to 20 mlU/ml. For post-menopausal women, levels are between 40 IU/L to 250 IU/L, or 50 mIU/ml to 100 mIU/ml.
Note any differences between your FSH levels and those stated as normal. Different laboratories will have differing scales for measuring FSH levels. Those given here are a guideline. In women, FSH levels under 6 mIU/ml are considered excellent, 6 mIU/ml to 10 mIU/ml is good to fair, while levels of more than 13 mIU/ml may suggest a diminished ovarian reserve.The higher the level of FSH, the less fertile a patient may be. For pregnant women the level of FSH in the blood is virtually undetectable.
Contact your health-care provider if you are a woman of childbearing years with high FSH levels who wishes to become pregnant. Further tests can be given to determine the cause of the high levels of FSH and assess your fertility. Men who have high FSH results and wish to have children should also contact their health-care provider. A semen analysis or testicular biopsy can be performed to check fertility.
Consult your health-care provider if there is a discrepancy in your test results or if you have further questions. Various disorders are associated with abnormal FSH levels, which may require further tests. These include hypopituitarism, polycystic ovary disease, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, ovarian failure, anorexia and ovarian or adrenal cancers.