While your ovaries produce hormones vital for the reproductive system in oestrogen and progesterone, the brain also produces two equally important hormones for sexual and reproductive health called luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Adequate levels of these hormones are needed for a fully functional and healthy reproductive system in both men and women.
LH is important for ovulation during a woman’s menstrual cycle. This is the time when the egg is released from the ovary. Aside from stimulating ovulation, LH also prepares the uterus for pregnancy, and is vital in the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy during initial stages.
Without LH, there would be no ovulation and there may be an absence of your period altogether. On the other hand, high levels of LH are usually seen in women who have trouble getting pregnant or those with an underlying disorder such as a disease of the thyroid gland or an autoimmune disorder.
Normally menopausal women have increased blood LH levels. A decrease in the blood LH level is seen normally in pregnant females.
LH in men stimulates the production of the male hormone testosterone, a lack of which can cause infertility and a lower sexual drive.
Checking for LH Levels in the Laboratory
A simple blood test can measure the level of LH in your body. Your doctor may order this test when you’re having trouble conceiving, have irregular periods, symptoms of low testosterone (decreased sex drive and muscle mass) or when a pituitary gland disorder is suspected.
The level of LH in the blood is constantly changing throughout the menstrual cycle. It peaks just before ovulation which is ideally on the 14th day of your menstrual cycle. When you’re planning to get your blood test done, it is a good idea to choose the appropriate time or discuss to with your doctor what day of your menstrual cycle you are at.
To minimize any errors and to improve the accuracy of the test, your doctor may take more than one sample.
It is also recommended to stop any hormone or birth control pills that you may be taking at least four weeks before the test is performed for accurate results.
What Are the Basic Tests for Infertility?
The LH blood test is only one of the several tests that can help determine the status of your fertility. There are a couple of other gender-specific infertility tests that can be performed:
- FSH blood test
- Ovulation test
- Ovarian reserve tests
- Genetic testing
- Semen examination
- FSH blood test
- Genetic testing
- MRI and ultrasound
- Biopsy of the testis
Improving the Probability of Conception
Conception is not easy for everyone. Infertility is a slowly rising global epidemic. If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, there are medical treatment options to increase your chance of conceiving.
Certain changes in lifestyle can also help increase the likelihood of getting pregnant. Here are a few:
- Shift to a healthy, balanced diet
- Stop smoking
- Use a sperm-friendly lubricant
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
- Decrease caffeine intake
- Keep track of your menstrual cycle and the fertile days
Your Reproductive Health is Important!
A healthy pregnancy reflects a healthy reproductive system. Are you having trouble getting pregnant? It’s time to check in with your doctor and possibly get an LH test and other basic infertility tests done. With the help of medicine and science coupled with a few changes to your lifestyle, you might become a parent very soon!
If you’re interested in learning more about LH and the consequences of abnormal levels of it, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!
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