LH and FSH hormones

For women, luteinising hormone (LH) plays an important role within your menstrual cycle. Together it works with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which is another gonadotropin made in the pituitary gland. 

During puberty the pituitary gland increases the production of luteinising hormone (LH), stimulating more oestrogen and progesterone production. For women, this hormonal pathway triggers sexual maturity and with that comes breast development, additional hair growth, pelvic widening, as well as an increase in height, fat storage and oil within the skin. For men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone and in turn, stimulates sperm production. This helps accentuate the more masculine characteristics like voice deepening or growth of facial hair.

In terms of LH’s role once a menstrual cycle begins, it’s main set of jobs are:

  • Fast spike of hormone right before ovulation (mid-cycle), referred to as the LH surge. It falls quickly back down with FSH.
  • Helps produce testosterone therefore assisting with sperm production
  • If an egg is fertilised, LH is the hormone that helps stimulate progesterone to sustain the pregnancy.
  • Abnormally high levels of LH at the beginning or end of your cycle is more inclined to indicate menopause, PCOS (linked to abnormal testosterone levels) or dysfunction.
  • Low levels have been linked to high stress, malnutrition, anorexia or pituitary dysfunction.

What about FSH? What does it do? Well, FSH stimulates the ovarian follicle, causing an egg to grow. It also triggers the production of oestrogen in the follicle. In men, it further acts on the testes along with LH to produce sperm.

Should FSH be high or low? Most often, raised levels are a sign of malfunction in the gonads (ovaries or testes). If this is the case then not enough create oestrogen, testosterone and/or inhibin is being created, therefore the correct ‘feedback control’ of FSH production from the pituitary gland is lost. In women, FSH levels also start to rise naturally in women around the menopausal period, reflecting a reduction in function of the ovaries and decline of oestrogen and progesterone production.

If FSH levels are low in women, it may be due to incomplete puberty development or poor ovarian function and an egg may not be released from the ovary. Sufficient FSH is needed in males, so if FSH is deficient it again may be due to a lack of or delayed puberty, including the absence of sperm.

These functions may sounds minute compared to some other reproductive hormones that seem to have various responsibilities, but LH and FSH play a very big role amongst your sex organs, particularly with the main focus being reproduction.

Unsure of what your hormones might be doing? Our Naturopaths have extensive clinical experience and specialise in hormonal health, male and female fertility, and reproductive conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS. Contact us for an appointment reception@darlinghealth.com.au

Other hormones that might be of interest, see below