The Importance of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone for Men

Posted by Dr. Michael White, Updated on June 24th, 2022
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While Testosterone is the hormone most associated with male physiology, our bodies don't simply produce it out of thin air. There are many hormones and precursors that help protect and preserve male form and function. One of those hormones is Follicle-Stimulating Hormone, often abbreviated FSH, for short.

From fetal development to puberty, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone acts on Sertoli Cells in men in order to develop and mature the testes. After puberty, FSH encourages the production of sperm by the testes. It also keeps sperm healthy until they are released in ejaculation. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone is also very important for women's sexual development. It encourages eggs' formation and plays a critical role in the menstrual cycle. This article will focus on how FSH impacts men's lives.

How Does the Body Know When to Produce Follicle-Stimulating Hormone?

The body regulates FSH production by monitoring levels of Inhibin and Testosterone in blood circulation. Low Testosterone Levels stimulate the secretion of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone, while high levels of the hormone limit signals for FSH. This is called negative feedback. The Hypothalamus is responsible for interpreting signals from the rest of the body. It sends the signal to produce Testosterone and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone via the production of Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone. Inhibin, on the other hand, reduces the production of FSH by acting on the Anterior Pituitary Gland. Ideally, FSH Levels should range from 1.5-12.4 mIU/mL.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is most important for the secretion of Testosterone, while FSH activates the Testes to manufacture sperm. These hormones work together in tandem to ensure that the male reproductive system works as intended. Low LH Levels suppress Testosterone while Low FSH Levels reduce fertility.

How do Doctors Use Follicle-Stimulating Hormone to Diagnose Low-T?

Testosterone Deficiency is diagnosed by directly measuring Testosterone Levels in the bloodstream. While this information is obviously useful, it doesn't tell the whole story. There are two categories of Low-T—Primary Hypogonadism and Secondary Hypogonadism. Primary Hypogonadism is the result of underperforming and malfunctioning testes. In Secondary Hypogonadism, the testes remain healthy but do not receive sufficient signal from the brain to make Testosterone.

Men's Health Clinics measure FSH and LH Levels to pinpoint the source of Low Testosterone Production. In Primary Hypogonadism, the brain overcompensates for the testes' inability to produce adequate Testosterone by making too much Follicle-Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone. In Secondary Hypogonadism, Low FSH and LH Levels suppress fertility and impede Testosterone Production.

Bio-Identical Testosterone Therapy works for both Primary and Secondary Hypogonadism, but many drugs that can treat Secondary Hypogonadism will have no effect on Primary Hypogonadism. Sometimes, Aromatase Inhibitors and Estrogen Blockers are prescribed for Secondary Testosterone Deficiency, limiting the conversion of Testosterone into Estrogen and increasing available Testosterone.

Medications that Increase FSH Production in Men

When men don't produce enough Follicle-Stimulating Hormone, it leads to a dramatic reduction in fertility. While Testosterone Therapy provides many excellent benefits to men with Low-T, it has a negative impact on fertility. Testosterone Therapy creates a negative feedback loop that continuously suppresses FSH and LH Production.

Luckily, there are medications available that can increase Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Production and bolster fertility while also encouraging increased Testosterone Levels. The most common of these treatments is clomiphene citrate. This drug boosts the production of both FSH and LH, giving the testes the fuel that they need to make Testosterone and generate sperm. Clomiphene citrate is prescribed under the brand names Serophene and Clomid. Clomiphene citrate is prescribed to men experiencing fertility issues. It is also offered to men with Low Testosterone who want to preserve their fertility and the function of their testes during treatment.

Hormone Deficiency Testing Including FSH/LH Analysis

Our Licensed Hormone Clinic offers Comprehensive Metabolic and Hormone Testing to provide our patients with the best possible results. Measuring Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Levels is essential to a complete and accurate diagnosis of Testosterone Deficiency, and we work with Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp to provide lab services to our patients all over America!

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