Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is a gonadotropin secreted by the anterior pituitary glands and regulates the activity of the gonads (e.g. ovaries and testes). Specifically, it operates in conjunction with luteinizing hormone (LH) to stimulate the development of graafian follicle in females and promote the development of the tubules in the testes and the differentiation of sperm.
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Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
The production and secretion of FSH and LH are regulated by a balance of positive and negative feedback mechanisms involving the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, the reproductive organs, and the pituitary and sex steroid hormones. In women, follicle-stimulating hormone levels start to rise naturally around the menopausal period, reflecting a reduction in the function of the ovaries and a decline of oestrogen and progesterone production. However, at any other time, an increase in FSH levels are a sign of malfunction in the ovary or testis. A wide variety of disorders are associated with high FSH, including premature ovarian failure, gonadal dysgenesis, systemic lupus erythematosus, testicular failure, and Klinefelter syndrome. Low levels of FSH are also problematic and can lead to incomplete development at puberty for both men and women.
FSH is typically measured through a quantitative serum test. Only third generation FSH testing is sensitive enough (0.03 mIU/mL) to assess gonadal dysfunction in children 18 years and under.
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