Follicle stimulating hormone levels

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Intro to FSH. As its name implies, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates the maturation of ovarian follicles. FSH is one of two hormones comprising the menotropins. Menotropins are produced in the anterior pituitary gland and are two hormones key to ovulation and fertility, important along with estrogen and progesterone. The other menotropin is the luteinizing hormone (LH). The two hormones work in concert to prepare the body for having a baby.

FSH initiates follicular growth within the ovaries. This includes the developing egg, the cells surrounding the egg that produce the hormones needed to support a pregnancy, and the fluid around the egg. Specifically FSH affects the granulosa cells. Their effect appears to be critical for selecting the most advanced and viable follicle to release its egg or ovulate. As the follicle grows, an increasing amount of the estrogen is produced by the cells in the follicle and released into the bloodstream. Estrogen triggers the endometrium (lining of the uterus) to thicken before ovulation occurs in order to support an embryo.

The higher blood levels of estrogen will also tell the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to slow the production and release of FSH. The amount of FSH varies throughout a woman's menstrual cycle and is highest just before she releases an egg. At the end of a menstrual cycle, there is also a slight rise in FSH which seems to occur as a result of preparing for the next ovulatory cycle.

In men, FSH stimulates production of sperm. For both men and women FSH is key to reproduction and will be one of the first places a doctor checks when infertility is an issue.

Source: Wikipedia, Mayo, WebMD, FertilityCommunity


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