What is FSH?
FSH is short for follicle-stimulating hormone. This hormone is synthesized by the pituitary gland and is in charge with the development, growth, pubertal maturation and reproductive processes in human body. This hormone normally acts synergistically with one more hormone called luteinizing hormone.
In women FSH regulates the growth and recruitment of immature ovarian follicles. FSH reaches its peak at the third day of the menstrual cycle. After being stimulated the ovaries produce and release the egg. Apart from being in charge with ovulation FSH is also important for maintenance of normal menstrual cycles. In men, FSH motivates maturation of seminiferous tubules and spermatogenesis.
Causes of Low FSH Levels
Neither high nor low levels of FSH are good for both genders. Low FSH levels, for example, significantly interferes in one's a reproductive ability. There are many causes of low FSH levels. The reduction of this hormone significantly interferes in women's cycle and in men it affects normal production of the sperm. In some cases low FSH levels may lead to infertility.
The underlying cause of the low FSH levels may be related to malfunctioning of the pituitary gland. Any trauma or damage caused by tumors or inflammatory processes of the brain may affect normal production of FSH. Low levels of FSH can be also a characteristic of mental retardation Turner's syndrome, ovarian cysts, meningitis etc. And finally, reduction of this hormone occurs in underweight people, smokers and those exposed to chronic stress.
Symptoms of Low FSH
Symptoms of low FSH are rather typical and they include irregular menstrual cycle, excess weight gain, hair gain and deepening of the voice. Low FSH in men leads to increase in height, gynecomastia and reduction in the amount of body hair.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Low FSH
The patients complain about previously mentioned symptoms and the doctor firstly performs physical examination of the patient and then performs certain tests. There are several tests which can measure the level of FSH. The reduction can be only confirmed after these tests have been performed.
The goal of the treatment is to increase the FSH level, to be more precise to bring it back to normal. It can be achieved by FSH injections. The injections may be effective in some people suffering from infertility.
In case that low FSH is connected to certain disease of the brain such as pituitary tumors, inflammation of the brain tissue or a stroke normalization of FSH can be achieved after previously mentioned conditions are treated and brought under control.
And finally, reduction of stress and quitting smoking may result in normalization of FSH levels.