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Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is exactly what it sounds like—a hormone that stimulates follicles (the sacs within your ovaries that contain eggs) to grow. High FSH can make getting pregnant difficult.
How Does High FSH Affect Fertility?
If you have an unusually high level of FSH at a young age, it may mean you have run out of follicles - it is often referred to as diminished ovarian reserve. Unfortunately, your body is not able to make more. If you do not have any follicles capable of developing into a mature egg, you are unlikely to be able to get pregnant.
If you have elevated FSH levels, are under 40 years old, have not menstruated for more than six months, or have irregular bleeding, your ovaries may not be working properly. When your ovaries fail at an earlier than expected age, it is called premature ovarian failure (POF). Since loss of ovarian function results in abnormally low levels of estrogen, very few women with premature ovarian failure are able to get pregnant naturally.
Unfortunately, women who have high FSH levels often respond poorly to fertility medication or not at all. They may also have a low chance of getting pregnant when they tryin vitro fertilization (IVF, which uses an egg fertilized by sperm outside the womb) to try to achieve pregnancy.
A fertility doctor can test your FSH levels and your ovarian reserve to help you understand your fertility. To find one near you, type in your zip code in the “Find a Doctor” or “Find a Clinic” search on our website.