High FSH levels
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels can be a problem in both male and female fertility. However, they are often seen in women who try to conceive later in life when FSH levels naturally rise. In women, the high levels are caused by the pituitary gland sending more and more FSH to the follicles as the turn-off switch, which is initiated shortly after ovulation, didn't occur as ovulation didn't take place.
What is a high level of FSH varies from in-vitro fertilization clinics to fertility clinics. Generally, it's a level higher than 12-14. If the FSH level is higher than this, an IVF treatment may be cancelled as the fertility drugs will have a poor response to stimulation.
An FSH test is done at the start of the menstrual cycle, ideally on day 2. After this the FSH level increases. Having a high FSH level doesn't necessarily mean you have a poor ovarian reserve.
High FSH levels will fluctuate with each menstrual cycle. Women with high FSH levels will often have the following symptoms, which are all classical symptoms of a blood deficiency:
- Cold hands and feet
- Poor memory and concentration
- Pale complexion
- Hair loss
- Scanty periods
Acupuncture for high FSH levels
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is regulated by the pituitary gland under influence from the hypothalamus. It is an important indicator of fertility.
FSH stimulates the ovaries to grow and mature multiple follicles, which contain eggs. As one follicle becomes dominant and matures, it releases oestradiol.
The normal level of FSH is between 3.5-12.5pmol/L (1.5-5.5ng/mL) in the follicular/yin phase around day 2-3 of the menstrual cycle. The level of FSH increases with age. A high FSH means that the egg isn't maturing enough to release oestrogen, which switches off FSH production. If levels of FSH become higher than 15pmol/L, then the woman will likely be infertile as her eggs are maturing. Post-menopausal women have high levels of FSH.
When undergoing IVF, levels of FSH need to be below 12pmol/L, although this level varies from clinic to clinic, with some fertility clinics excepting a level below 15pmol/L. As fertility drugs use FSH, a high level means that the ovaries are less likely to response to the drugs leading to a failed IVF cycle.
Zheng et al. (2015) Effects of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation on ovarian reserve of patients with diminished ovarian reserve in in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer cycles. J Obstet Gynaecol Res, Volume 41, Issue 12, 1905–1911.