FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, is a hormone that plays an essential role in the growth and maturation of ovarian follicles, ovulation, and the menstrual cycle. Baseline FSH levels usually increase with age due to a smaller ovarian reserve, as more FSH is needed over time to stimulate ovarian function. A normal FSH level may imply a person has an appropriate egg quantity for their reproductive stage.
LH, or luteinizing hormone, is a chemical that triggers important processes in the reproductive system. LH spurs ovulation and helps with hormone production necessary to support pregnancy. Abnormal LH levels may indicate fertility issues.
Prolactin is a hormone that causes the breasts to grow and make milk during pregnancy and after birth. Prolactin levels are normally high for pregnant women and new mothers, and normally low for nonpregnant women and men.
If prolactin levels are higher than normal, this often indicates a prolactinoma, a type of tumor of the pituitary gland. In women, excess prolactin can cause the production of breast milk while not pregnant or breastfeeding, menstrual problems, and infertility, or the inability to get pregnant.
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex and the ovaries. Testosterone bound to proteins in the blood is called Total Testosterone. Certain medications, like birth control, can increase those proteins and bind more testosterone, leaving less Free Testosterone floating freely in the blood.
AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone)
AMH, or anti-mullerian hormone, corresponds to a person’s egg count. Higher AMH levels mean more eggs and a higher ovarian reserve, while lower AMH levels mean fewer eggs and a lower ovarian reserve.
Both men and women produce AMH, but healthcare providers frequently use the test in women to provide a snapshot of a woman’s reproductive health. Abnormal AMH levels may also indicate an ovarian mass called a granulosa cell tumor.
Estradiol is the main form of estrogen and is produced by the ovaries. It is one of the main sex hormones responsible for ovulation and is vital to reproductive health and pregnancy. Estradiol also plays a role in the development of bones and secondary sexual characteristics, as well as the functioning of the brain and reproductive system.
Progesterone is a hormone that helps maintain the endometrium, or lining of the uterus, and helps support pregnancy. When a person enters menopause and ovarian function declines, progesterone production significantly decreases.