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FSH: follicle stimulating hormone

FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is a fertility hormone produced by your pituitary gland. FSH plays a very important role in conception as it sets up the whole process each month during your menstrual cycle, together with LH.

diagram of woman's internal reproductive organs

Your ovarian follicles mature in your ovaries
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FSH’s main responsibility is the growth and maturation of your ovarian follicles, without which you would not be able to ovulate. Afterwards, LH will step in to ensure that your egg is released so fertilisation can take place. Your increased FSH levels also instigate the production of estrogen, another important pregnancy hormone. Once you are pregnant estrogen and progesterone will help to suppress your FSH levels so that you cannot menstruate.

Like LH, excessively high or low levels of FSH can cause fertility problems in both men and women. So if you are having trouble conceiving your physician will probably test both you and your partner’s FSH levels.

Good news mums! Since LH levels drop during pregnancy, this hormone does not cause any pesky pregnancy symptoms.

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