FSH stands for Follicle Stimulating Hormone. FSH is an important part of both female and male fertility. A test for FSH is often used to determine if there are certain types of fertility problems, although there are other times that a FSH test might be used. For example, high levels of FSH mean, in some cases, that a woman has reached menopause. Levels of FSH may be interpreted to mean that a patient has a disorder with either the pituitary gland or a gonadal disorder. FSH levels might be tested in order to diagnose some sort of problem with menstruation, as well. In the case of children, an FSH test may be used to tell whether or not a child has entered puberty, in cases where it does not seem that they have reached puberty by a specific age.
In a woman, high levels of FSH mean, in terms of fertility, that a woman’s ovarian reserve is low. The ovarian reserve refers to the number of eggs that a woman has on reserve, that may be fertilized during ovulation in order for pregnancy to occur. A level of 10 or below on FSH means that a woman is average. A woman who has a level of 25 or more in FSH is considered to be abnormal. Levels in between 10 and 25 are considered borderline. FSH tests are most often used in combination with other sorts of fertility tests as a part of a fertility work up. The treatment for high levels of FSH is, in more cases than not, radical reproductive assistances, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
For men, high FSH means that there is, more likely than not, some failure of the testicles. Testicular failure can be caused by defects in the testicles, or injury to the testicles. Some of the conditions causing testicular failure can be a virus, chemotherapy, radiation exposure, gonadal agenesis, a chromosomal abnormality, germ cell tumor, and autoimmune disease. If the FSH levels are high in a man, it may be possible to correct the problem by addressing the particular cause of the testicular failure. In many cases, however, testicular failure may not be able to be reversed.