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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-24 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is used to evaluate pituitary function, especially as it relates to fertility issues, gonadal failure, maturation concerns or pituitary tumors.[1]


  • FSH is made by the pituitary gland. Control of FSH production is a complex system involving hormones produced by the ovaries or testes, the pituitary and the hypothalamus.
  • In women, FSH stimulates the growth and maturation of eggs (follicles) in the ovaries during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
  • In men, FSH stimulates the testes to produce mature sperm and also promotes the production of androgen binding proteins.
  • Indications for measuring FSH include:
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • symptoms of pituitary or hypothalamic disorders
  • symptoms of ovarian or testicular disease
  • delayed or early childhood sexual maturation
  • menopause

Patient Preparation

  • No fasting required.
  • FSH can be measured in blood or urine.
  • Factors which can cause increased levels
  • radiation therapy
  • Medications such as cimetidine, digitalis, levodopa, anticonvulsants, clomiphene, naloxone, and spironalactone
  • Factors which can cause decreased levels

Clinical Implications

High levels indicate:

  • primary ovarian failure
  • primary testicular failure
  • failure to develop gonads
  • Klinefelters syndrome
  • viral infection (mumps)
  • trauma
  • radiation
  • chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune disease
  • germ cell tumor

Low levels indicate:

  • pituitary failure
  • hypothalamic failure
  • secondary ovarian failure
  • increased risk of Ovarian Cancer

Associated Tests


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.