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Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is produced in the pituitary gland but has its effects in the ovaries and testes and plays an important role in fertility. Levels of FSH and LH should increase in the blood and then fall significantly by the 10th day of the menstrual cycle.
If levels do not decline, it may mean insufficient ovarian reserve and a reduced chance of pregnancy.
Levels of FSH will rise with age, and higher levels may indicate the onset of menopause. However, FSH levels alone aren't sufficient for diagnosing menopause. Higher levels are also seen with ovarian failure and pituitary adenoma. Levels can be low with the type of amenorrhea caused by hypothalamic or pituitary function and higher with the type of amenorrhea caused by ovarian insufficiency.
FSH also stimulates aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgens to the estradiol form of estrogen. An insufficiency of FSH can lead to androgen excess, as seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
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