Understanding FSH Levels In Women

Understanding these Levels In Women

In both men and women, having a good balance of hormones is a very important factor in fertility. Though the chances of a woman getting pregnant drops drastically after the age of 40 or even so after 35, a great number of women continue to conceive after that age by turning to IVF treatments (In-Vitro Fertilization). FSH, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone, is a naturally occurring hormone that’s manufactured and released by the pituitary gland. As the name suggests, FSH stimulates the growth of follicles and plays a role in the maturation of oocytes. It is one of several reproductive hormones the body produces at certain levels in each ovulatory cycle to ensure optimal ovulation occurs. The follicles are what contain the egg cells.

It is thus, an important hormone in the conception process. Several things can go wrong in the body that may lead to inadequate or overproduction of FSH or other hormones in the body. When the levels that are deemed optimal for production are thrown off one way or the other, it is a clear indication that something is out of balance within the system and may cause some issues with the woman not being able to conceive.

FSH levels in women

Women are born with a certain number of eggs. With time, the number of quality eggs start to decrease. FSH, in women, helps in controlling and regulating the woman’s menstrual cycle and has a partial role in the production of ovaries. The levels of a woman’s FSH may vary throughout her usual cycle, with a spike experienced immediately before ovulation.

If FSH levels are however generally low or high beyond the normal level, this could be a signal for fertility issues a woman is experiencing and the possibility of not being able to conceive. For menstruating women, the normal FSH levels during follicular or luteal phase should be between 5 and 20 international units per liter (IU/L). before ovulation through the mid cycle peak, FSH levels should range between 30 and 50 IU/L. For a post-menopausal woman, her FSH levels should naturally be higher, at approximately 60 IU/L or even more.

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 or 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.

Effects of High FSH Levels on IVF

The success of In-Vitro Fertilization cycle depends entirely on one’s ability to produce a good number of high quality eggs. Experts have come up with a number of tools to assess the ovarian reserve of patients in attempts to predict the probability of the success of an IVF cycle. These include blood tests like FSH and others such as AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) that can be drawn at any time. Evaluating antral follicle counts (AFCs), number of small follicles at a cycle through vaginal ultrasound is another method used to measure ovarian reserve. Abnormally low AMH and AFCs, as well as high FSH levels denote a relatively poor fertility prognosis and low chances of success with IVF.

What elevated FSH levels in women may signify

After the age of 40, a new phase of life begins and hormonal changes occur in preparation for menopause. Ovaries start to lose their production ability of mature follicles, progesterone and estrogen. This may be attributed to high FSH levels. High levels of FSH in women signifies polycystic ovary syndrome, loss of or poor ovarian function or an indication that menopause has begun or is taking place already.

High levels of FSH may also be an indication of low ovarian reserve and lower pregnancy chances with IVF. When a woman experiences premature ovarian failure due to low FSH, it means that the body has no ability to make the required estrogen levels or release eggs for fertilization to occur. Abnormal levels of FSH can also predict poor response to fertility medications.


Given its role in maturing eggs, you may think that high levels of FSH is a good thing. However, this is not the case. Elevated FSH levels lowers a woman’s chances of getting pregnant with IVF and is a huge indication of low ovarian reserve. Normal ranges of the hormone decrease significantly with age.