INFERTILITY DIAGNOSIS Article · 24 June 2022

FSH, LH, prolactine – a dictionary of fertility hormones

Human fertility depends on many factors. One of the most important are sex hormones. Why? Because it is the hormones that create the conditions that allow a woman to become pregnant and give birth to a child.

fertility hormones

Human fertility depends on many factors. One of the most important are sex hormones. Why? Because it is the hormones that create the conditions that allow a woman to become pregnant and give birth to a child. Without them it would be simply impossible… Below you can find a dictonary of the most important hormones regulating female and male fertility.




Progesterone is a steroid hormone classified as gestagen. This hormone is produced by the ovaries, adrenal cortex and corpus luteum, and also during placenta during pregnancy. What is the function? Progesterone is primarily to prepare the uterine mucosa (endometrium) so that the embryo can implant in it. In addition, this hormone affects the response of the mother’s immune system not to reject the fetus. It also has a relaxing effect on the uterine muscle membrane (Myometrum), reducing its sensitivity to oxytocin and preventing cramps. Progesterone levels are most often tested when ovulation disorders, irregular periods, and ovarian failure are present. At low levels, progesterone also occurs in men and is produced in the testes.




Estrogens are also very important sex hormones produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands and adipose tissue cells. The estrogen group consists of: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), estriol (E3). Both estrogen deficiency and excess can have an adverse effect on a woman’s health. In young women, estradiol is of particular importance. It conditions the development of 2- and 3-row sexual characteristics – girls take on a female figure and their breasts grow. Estradiol also responds, among others for normal growth of the uterus, fallopian tubes and vagina.


Estrogens affect not only fertility, but also other aspects of a woman’s life, including libido, mood, skin and hair appearance. The level of estrogen in a woman’s body changes throughout the entire menstrual cycle. They play a special role in the first phase of the cycle.




Prolactin is a peptide hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, endometrium, mammary glands, and also through the placenta during pregnancy. The main function of prolactin is to stimulate lactation. Therefore, the presence of galactorrhoea may indicate a high level of prolactin in the female body. Prolactin is also responsible for the functioning of the corpus luteum, which regulates the production of progesterone necessary to maintain pregnancy.


In gynecological practice, hyperprolactinemia, i.e. an increased concentration of prolactin in the body, is a fairly common phenomenon. Excess of this hormone can disrupt the menstrual cycle, stop ovulation, cause excessive body hair, decrease in libido, depression or bone demineralization.


It is worth to mention that prolactin also affects men’s health. Too high level of this hormone often takes away the urge to have sex and sometimes causes erection problems. Hyperprolactinemia can be caused by many factors, e.g. pituitary tumor, certain endocrine diseases, including hypothyroidism, diabetes, chronic renal failure and liver failure.


FSH hormone


Follicle stimulating hormone is a hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. In women, it is responsible for the production of estradiol and follicular maturation, in men – for the production of spermatozoa. The FSH hormone test is used to assess the ovarian reserve. If the level of this hormone is high, it should be suspected that the number of eggs is low and problems with conceiving may occur. Low levels of follicle stimulating hormone can mean that the ovaries are inefficient.


LH hormone


Lutropin, or luteinizing hormone, stimulates ovulation and the production of progesterone and estrogen in women. It arises in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. LH hormone is regulated by gonadoliberin, testosterone and progesterone secreted in the hypothalamus. Its concentration changes throughout the menstrual cycle of a woman. We observe the most in the periovulatory period, i.e. during fertile days. What’s more, luteinizing hormone also occurs in men, responsible for stimulating the testicles to produce testosterone.


Antimüllerian hormone


Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH), just like the LH and FSH hormones, can be found in both women and men. In women, it is secreted by granular cells of primary follicles, pre-antral follicles and small antral follicles. In boys (from 8 weeks of gestation to puberty) by Sertoli cells in the testicles.




Testosterone is the basic male sex hormone that has a huge impact on fertility and more. It is a steroid hormone belonging to androgens, produced by Leydig cells in the testes and to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands. Interestingly, at low levels, this hormone also occurs in women – it is produced by the ovaries, and in the case of pregnant women by the placenta. Testosterone is responsible for the proper development of 1- and 2-row sexual characteristics: testicles, scrotum or penis. It is thanks to testosterone that men also have more extensive muscle mass, characteristic body hair and low voice.


Testosterone is a hormone responsible for the process of sperm production and maturation. Therefore, too low or too high concentration may reduce male fertility. This should be remembered by all men who, e.g. while training in the gym, take synthetic testosterone as doping. This way you can accelerate muscle growth – it’s a fact. On the other hand, the use of anabolic steroids like testosterone can have side effects. Delivering them from the outside blocks the natural testosterone production in the testes, which reduces the number of sperm produced. In addition, it can cause erectile dysfunction, hyperplasia of the mammary gland, and skin changes (acne).

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