4 Ways Follicle Stimulating Hormone Tests Are Used

Follicle stimulating hormones are typically produced by the pituitary gland to serve reproductive functions. For women, the hormones help to regulate the menstrual cycle and production of eggs. For men, follicle stimulating hormones control sperm production at a constant rate. When a couple has problems with infertility, a specialist will want to measure the amounts of hormones each partner is producing to determine if everything is functioning properly.

1. Testing can help determine the cause of infertility.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) testing can help to determine if a woman is still creating eggs or if a man has normal sperm count. In some cases, infertility is caused by issues that can be treated. If you have been trying to conceive for longer than one year, or six months if you are over the age of 35, you should talk to a doctor about potential testing.

2. Testing can find the cause of menstrual problems.

A doctor can figure out the cause of a menstrual issue, like an irregular period, with the help of this testing. If a woman is not sure that she has gone through menopause, the test can also help her determine if she has. Symptoms associated with menstrual issues include abnormal bleeding, intense pain before and during periods, and extreme pre-menstrual syndrome.

3. Testing can diagnose precocious or delayed puberty.

Children going through precocious puberty will often be diagnosed after FSH testing, and it can also help doctors determine why delayed puberty is occurring. Symptoms of precocious puberty include developing breasts or having a period before the age of 9. It can happen in boys as well with signs like enlargement of the testicles and deepening voice.

4. Testing can diagnose conditions of the pituitary gland.

Certain disorders of the pituitary gland, like tumors, can be detected with follicle stimulating hormones. Signs of a potential pituitary gland issue include reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased body hair, lack of menstrual periods, hot flashes, mood changes, weakness, vomiting, low blood sugar, and dizziness. It is easy to overlook or misattribute some of these symptoms, so getting tested is important for diagnosis.

Follicle stimulating hormone tests do require some preparation, including cessation of certain medications. Patients will be asked to stop taking birth control pills, for instance. The tests are performed via drawing blood. If you have questions about how the test can help diagnose you, talk to your doctor right away.