FSH Levels and Your Fertility

FSH Levels and Your Fertility

In both men and women, having a balanced level of hormones is essential to proper fertility. FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, is a naturally occurring hormone that is made by the pituitary gland in the body.

If the FSH levels are either low or high, it is a clear indicator that something is out of balance within the reproductive system and may be causing issues with the couple being able to conceive. While FSH levels are used to determine if there is an imbalance, low or high FSH is not the direct cause of fertility issues, just a sign that there may be one.

FSH in Women

Doctors believe a level higher than 10-15mIU/L may indicate diminished fertility or diminished ovarian reserve.

For women, follicle-stimulating hormones help to control and regulate the woman’s menstrual cycle and is also partially responsible for the production of the ova, or eggs, in the ovaries. It is normal for a woman’s FSH levels to vary throughout her monthly cycle, with there being a spike in the levels immediately before ovulation.

However, if FSH levels are generally too high or too low, it can signal fertility issues for the woman which can prevent conception from occurring. For menstruating women, the normal FSH levels during the follicular and luteal phase should range between 5 and 20 IU/L (international units per liter). Right before ovulation during the mid-cycle peak, FSH levels should be between 30 and 50 IU/L. If a woman is post-menopausal, her FSH levels will be naturally higher, at 60 IU/L or more.

At about the age of 40, most women begin a new phase of life and hormone changes begin to take place in preparation for menopause. The ovaries begin to lose their ability to produce mature follicles, estrogen and progesterone. This may be signaled by higher levels of FSH.

High levels of FSH in women is a signal of poor ovarian function, polycystic ovary syndrome or can indicate that menopause has begun or is currently taking place. All of these conditions have a negative impact on fertility. Low levels of the hormone can indicate that eggs are not being produced, that the pituitary gland is not functioning correctly, that there are significant levels of stress present or that the person is severely underweight which can also cause fertility problems to occur.

FSH in Men

It is also essential for men to have normal levels of the FSH hormone. An imbalance of this hormone in men can contribute to infertility, so if a couple is having trouble conceiving it may be wise to have the FSH levels of both partners tested. For men, FSH controls sperm production which is of course essential to fertility.

Unlike women, a man’s FSH levels remain relatively constant rather than fluctuating throughout the month. Typically, a man’s follicle-stimulating hormone levels should be between 5 and 15 IU/L. High levels of FSH in a male could indicate that the testicles are not functioning properly, or may have been damaged by some condition. They can also indicate the presence of Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes the presence of too many X chromosomes in the male. Low levels of FSH usually indicate that sperm is not being produced.

How Do You Know If Your FSH Levels Are High or Low?

FSH Fertility LevelsFSH levels are determined by a blood test which is usually combined with other tests to diagnose hormonal levels and depending on the results may indicate reproductive problems such as low sperm count, lack of menses, or anovulation.

A low level of FSH may indicate an imbalance in the pituitary or hypothalamus.

A high FSH level may indicate an imbalance with the testes or ovaries ability to function properly.

In women, the FSH test (it is a blood test) is taken on the 3rd day of the menstrual period. Doctors believe levels higher than 10-15mIU/L may indicate diminished fertility, poor egg health or low ovarian reserve.

When looking at an imbalance such as high FSH or low FSH holistically, remember that these hormones are secreted and regulated by the endocrine system (hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries, testes). It is not that imbalanced FSH levels are the problem, it is the health and current state of the endocrine system that needs to be looked at.

Both FSH and LH secretion are affected by the hormonal balance of other hormones in the body and vice versa. High doses of estrogen or testosterone therapy/medications have been shown to suppress FSH and LH.

What Can Cause FSH Levels to Become Imbalanced?

The possible causes for low or high FSH are many, so it is hard to give a reason why FSH levels may be high or low. In the holistic world we do not look at the FSH levels as the “cause” of the fertility issues, but more as a result of an underlying imbalance. Imbalances such as these are a signal or sign that the body is out of balance.

When it comes to hormones, it is a delicate balancing act. The glandular system is one of the most important and complex systems in the body. It can be easy to get caught up in wanting to increase one hormone so your levels are back to normal. The problem that can occur with this approach is a hormone in another area, which is just as important as the first, may become out of balance as a result. This is why natural therapies can be so helpful. They are complementary, and help to support the body instead of forcing it into an action or adding one hormone.

Natural Therapies For Low FSH and High FSH

Herbs for Fertility and FSHWhat we focus on is helping the body to function at its best. When working to support the hormonal glands it is important to help the body to rid itself of excess hormones and maintain healthy weight while also focusing on some key areas we find helpful… These therapies can be used by themselves or in conjunction with medical therapies. Talk to your doctor about natural therapies first if you are taking hormonal drugs.

Support the Pituitary and Hypothalamus Glands Through Nutrition

Good Nutrition Supports a Healthy Pituitary and Hypothalamus Gland- Nutrition for the Hypothalamus

Insulin resistance and blood sugar levels have a big impact on the endocrine system and hormone levels. This is one of the reasons maintaining a healthy weight is important for healthy hormonal function. Following the Natural Fertility Diet to make sure you are getting proper nutrients in your diet will help a lot. Here are some specific nutrients and foods you should incorporate into your diet:

EFA’s
The hypothalamus is fed by essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and other nutrients. The glandular system utilizes essential fatty acids to produce hormones. If you are deficient, the body doesn’t have the building blocks to make the proper hormones. A sign that you may not have enough EFA’s in your system is if you have dry skin and hair.

Sea Vegetables and dark greens
Sea vegetables such as kelp, nori, and wakame contain large amounts of minerals which are essential for endocrine health. You can eat these in a salad, with sushi, they even come in dried strips that you can eat right out of the package.

Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. It contains proteins, minerals, vitamins, immune system compounds, and much more.

Spirulina
Spirulina is a dense green food which is mineral and protein rich. It is high in two essential minerals needed for proper endocrine system function – magnesium and potassium.

Herbs to Help Support and Nourish

American ginseng root

Adaptogen herbs are some of the best therapies to support the endocrine system, the pituitary and hypothalamus specifically. They contain no hormones but have a nourishing and balancing effect on the pituitary and hypothalamus. This in turn helps to balance the delicate hormonal system which then causes FSH, LH, Progesterone, Testosterone, etc. to be secreted in proper amounts at the correct times. Think of adaptogens as pituitary and hypothalamus food. They can be taken for long periods of time and their effects can be life changing. Remember as with most herbs, they should be taken for at least 3 months before you see the results you seek, and may need to be continued long-term.

Panax and American Ginseng
These herbs are adapotgenic and help to nourish and support the hypothalamus and pituitary gland (and all the glands in the endocrine system). Ginseng is generally used by men to help with low FSH levels, low testosterone, or other hormonal imbalances.

Maca
Maca is an adaptogen herb that has an effect on the endocrine system as well. In women, maca works by controlling estrogen in the body. Estrogen levels that are high or low at the wrong time can keep a woman from becoming pregnant or keep her from carrying to term. Excess estrogen levels also cause progesterone levels to become too low. Taking maca may help to increase progesterone levels which are essential to carrying a healthy pregnancy.

Estrogen in men produces erectile dysfunction or lack of libido, low sperm count, and lowered production of seminal fluid. Men who use maca have been seen to have an increased libido and healthy sperm.

Vitex
Vitex encourages luteinizing hormone production while mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This indirectly boosts progesterone production and the chances of achieving and maintaining a successful pregnancy.

Vitex decreases high prolactin levels, which are associated with breast pain. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates milk production and breast growth during pregnancy. High levels in the absence of pregnancy are often the result of a very common women’s endocrine disorder called hyperprolactinemia. High prolactin levels are also linked to fertility problems.

Vitex is an incredible hormone balancer, which adapts to women’s different needs.

Natural Body Therapies

Acupuncture
Acupuncture normalizes the dysfunction of the Hypothalamus- Pituitary – Ovarian Axis. This improves ovarian function creating more follicles, and better egg production. It has also been suggested that the concentrations of central opioids may regulate the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis via the central sympathetic system, and that a hyperactive sympathetic system in anovulatory patients could be normalized by ElectroAcupuncture (Chen and Yin, 1991). It has been assumed that various disorders in the autonomic nervous system, such as hormonal disturbances, may be normalized during auricular acupuncture (Gerhard and Postneck, 1992).

Fertility Massage
Massage encourages healthy communication between the pituitary, hypothalamus, and ovaries. This is called the “feedback loop”. It controls the levels of hormones produced in the body. By massaging the ovaries and including the stress relieving benefits of massage, a healthier balance can be found in the body. In Self Fertility Massage™ the liver is also massaged, which is another important organ for hormonal balance.

Promote hormonal balance

Too much estrogen or testosterone can cause FSH levels to be low. Cleansing the liver is one of the best things you can do for your hormonal health. The liver is responsible for taking the excess hormones from the body which are then excreted through elimination. Liver supporting herbs help the liver to function optimally so excess hormones are not circulating in the blood. Fertility cleansing is one of the best ways to cleanse your liver.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being underweight and overweight can cause FSH levels to be off. Being 10% below the ideal body weight can cause FSH levels to be low and cause many other fertility issues. Being overweight can also effect FSH and hormonal levels. The Natural Fertility Diet is a healthy way to move towards a healthy weight.

Reduce Stress

The release of stress hormones have a big impact on hormonal balance and health. If you are constantly stressed out, stress hormones are released and general hormone production is reduced. Taking steps to reduce your stress through yoga, meditation, prayer, massage, or exercise can help to keep your hormonal system healthy.


References:
1. Serge A Jabbour, MD. (8/2007). Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Abnormalities. Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Thomas Jefferson University.
2. Aso T, Motohashi T, Murata M, Nishimura T, Kakizaki K. (1976). The influence of acupuncture stimulation on plasma levels of LH, FSH, progesterone and estradiol in normally ovulating women. Am J Chin Med. Winter;4(4):391-401.
3. Yu, J., Zheng, H. M., & Ping, S. M. (1989). [Changes in serum FSH, LH and ovarian follicular growth during electroacupuncture for induction of ovulation]. Zhong xi yi jie he za zhi= Chinese journal of modern developments in traditional medicine/Zhongguo Zhong xi yi jie he yan jiu hui (chou), Zhong yi yan jiu yuan, zhu ban, 9(4), 199-202. Retrieved online from: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2503254
4. Mo X, Li D, Pu Y, Xi G, Le X, Fu Z. (6/1993). Clinical studies on the mechanism for acupuncture stimulation of ovulation. J Tradit Chin Med. 13(2):115-9.
5. Stener-Victorin, E., Waldenström, U., Andersson, S. A., & Wikland, M. (n.d.) Uterine arteries of infertile women. Retrieved online from: http://www.acupunctureshop.com/artikler/uterine-arteries-of-infertile-women.html

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[-] 193 Comments
  1. I have very short follicular phase (6-7 days). How can I lengthen it? Are there any herbs or medications that can help me? I have low AMH (0.2) and FSH (11).

  2. Hi! My husband has high FSH, normal testoterone, but in the low normal. We have been trying to conceive for the past year and no luck. He got a SA done and no sperm was found…do you think he can take clomid to fix it>?? anyting he can do to balance the FSH

    thank you so much

    • Dear MB,

      As shared about FSH and Male Ferility, FSH controls sperm production which is of course essential to fertility. It is going to be best to discuss with your husband’s doctor the cause of his elevated FSH Levels. What is causing his testicles to not function properly? Is there an underlying health issue, or was there testicular damage? We share more information in our guide Azoospermia – Know Your Options for Treatment that may be helpful.

  3. hi…my semen analysis test is as following: volume: 3.60……..ph: 7.20…………viscidity: normal……….sperm count ( mill/ml) 19.82……motil sperm: %71.13…..progressive sperm: %63.92….normal morphology: %76……wbc destiny: 6.46 ( abnormal)…..im 43 years old ..do i have problem to be father? please advice

  4. hi i have low fsh level how can i improove my fsh level and pls tel me what are causes for that

    • Dear Sonu,

      This very guide was written to share how to consider naturally supporting the body in achieving and maintaining healthy FSH levels. Know that each blue underlined phrase is a link to more information. Revisit the information under the heading Natural Therapies For Low FSH and High FSH and if you are still not sure where to begin or how to proceed with the best program for your needs, please consider a Fertility Consultation.

  5. hi, i m deepa from pakistan any doctor help me please,
    My AMH is very low .01 and FSH is very high 42 , i m worried about that how i get pregnant
    Should i conceive pregnancy ? here doctors says its not possible now
    please any one help me?

    • Dear Deepa,

      Thank you for reaching out to us!

      The answer to your questions may depend on several factors – age, diet and lifestyle, healthy history and what is causing your AMH to be low and FSH to be high (including how long this imbalance has been a challenge for you). We do want you to have hope! We want every woman to achieve her dream of becoming a mother!

      Do consider the Natural Therapies For Low FSH and High FSH discussed in this article and consider learning the role of AMH on ovarian reserve and continued follicle production.

      It would be best however to book a Fertility Consultation in order to work one on one with our fertility herbalist because it is difficult for me to answer your questions based on just a small piece of the bigger picture of your health. Through a Fertility Consultation, a fertility herbalist will to lay out an entire natural fertility program for you based on your specific fertility health needs. Learn more about a Fertility Consultation here…

      All my best!

  6. hi, my husband is a 32 years old. we have 8 years marriage and we don’t have child yet. my husband was cured for azoospermia with vitamins and testosterone. since 6 years but nothing has changed. momentously he has high fsh (68.3 miu/ml) and lh (30 mIU/ml). his doctors says he has hypogonadism hypogonadotropic non obstructive and that doesn’t exist any cure for him and he can’t father never forever. is this true? please answer me.
    thank you very much, blerta from albania

    • Dear Blerta,

      I am not a medical professional who can confirm this for you. I’m sorry!

      Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is testicular failure as a result of a deficiency in the communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, caused by genetic hypothalamus disorders or pituitary tumors, as well as congenital pituitary defects (to name two common reasons). Both of which contribute infertility. Both of which have proven challenging to address naturally.

      It would be best to seek a second opinion or the support of a specialist if you would like to investigate options for his healing and/or achieving your goal of parenthood. There are many paths to parenthood.

      All my best!

    • Dear Blerta,

      I am not a medical professional who can confirm this for you. I’m sorry!

      What I can share what I know about this condition. Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is testicular failure as a result of a deficiency in the communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, caused by genetic hypothalamus disorders or pituitary tumors, as well as congenital pituitary defects (to name two common reasons). Both of which contribute infertility. Both of which have proven challenging to address naturally.

      It would be best to seek a second opinion or the support of a specialist if you would like to investigate options for his healing and/or achieving your goal of parenthood. There are many paths to parenthood.

      All my best!

  7. Hi, I’m 44 years old,been trying to conceive for three years now. Its only just now that I’ve been able to seek help. So over the last few weeks I’ve been seeing my obgyn due to my cycles being so sporadic. My thyroid and prolactin levels were within normal range. I had a transabdominal/vaginal ultrasound, obgyn said everything looked normal. Then I had my FSH/Estradiol level tested, but on cycle day 64 due to my irregular cycle. Anyway, my FSH was 19.5 – Estradiol 92. She said it’s unlikely that I’m menopausal, but the results show low egg reserve. I’m confused because wouldn’t the FSH level be lower if I was tested on cycle day 3/4. I’m desperate to be a mum, so can you advise me? Thanks

    • Dear Nadine,

      It is my understanding that an FSH level higher than 10-15mIU/L is what doctor’s believe may indicate diminished fertility or diminished ovarian reserve, but that normal FSH levels during the follicular and luteal phase should range between 5 and 20 IU/L. Test results should be within that 5-20 IU/L range if hormones are balanced and reproductive organ function optimal.

      I think a helpful place to learn what we feel and have learned are the best ways to support ovarian reserve is in our guide to Ovarian Reserve, & Continued Follicle Production.

      If you would like help in creating a program personalized to your needs, our fertility herbalists are very willing to help through a Fertility Consultation.

  8. i am 33 years male having fsh level is 27.3% and also azoospermia .my testicular biopsy is also negative result.pls wht can ni do .help me in this regard

    • Dear Khan,

      Can you clarify what 27.3% means for you? Is this high or low? Also, what do you mean by “negative result”? Negative what… meaning no sperm was present? This is my guess because you shared you have azoospermia, but I want to be sure.

      We also offer a guide that shares information about Azoospermia, when there is an undetectable amount of sperm in a man’s semen. It is titled Azoospermia – Know Your Options for Treatment. Ultimately, it will help to know the underlying cause in order to know if natural therapies may be helpful.

  9. I have made the FSH test and it showed a low level of FSH hormone in my blood. So with these characteristics I have no chance to become pregnant…So my doctor prescribed me this drug Gonal-F…Who knows about it… Please advise… I’ve tried Maca powder. But it has not helped me. The doctor said better to take fertility drugs. For example, ovidrel, gonal-f or novarel. Will it help me….??

    • Hi Emma,

      Thanks for contacting us!
      This articles states…“Low levels of the hormone can indicate that eggs are not being produced, that the pituitary gland is not functioning correctly, that there are significant levels of stress present or that the person is severely underweight…”, did your doctor say any of these may be causing the issue? Depending on what is causing the FSH levels to be low will determine if there is anything that can be done naturally to help your body correct the problem.

      We are not medical doctors, so we are not educated in the use of fertility drugs, only natural therapies. If you have questions about medications your doctor wants you to take it would be best to contact them to ask them your questions!

      I look forward to hearing back from you.

  10. my LH level is 10.4
    FSH is 23.5
    as they are high and have no sperm count can these being hight cause my sperm to stop as i have a healthy 2 years 6 months girl which is mine? any idea to low it

    • Dear Shenmue,

      We know that high levels of follicle stimulating hormone, FSH, could mean that the testicles are not functioning properly for some reason. There may have been damage by a health condition or an infection, trauma, chronic exposure to EMFs or radiation, etc. High FSH levels can also indicate the presence of Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes the presence of too many X chromosomes in the male. Your doctor is best equipped to help you know why your FSH levels are high.