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Answering Questions About Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

09.05.2019 / Dr. Amy Divaraniya
Answering Questions About Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

Luteinizing hormone (LH) plays a critical role in your reproductive health, especially when it comes to trying to conceive. In this guide, we'll cover what luteinizing hormone is, how it's related to your cycle, LH levels, potential problems, and how to track your LH.

What is luteinizing hormone?

Luteinizing hormone is a hormone that is critical for regulating and controlling the reproductive system. It is produced and released by the anterior pituitary gland. The pituitary gland sits right at the base of the brain and is about the size of a single pea. Luteinizing hormone is known as a gonadotropin and affects the sex organs in both men and women. 

Luteinizing hormone function

What’s the purpose of LH and its function in your reproductive health? Along with follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone’s function is to signal your sex organs that they produce steroids or hormones, depending on your sex. 

What is the role of luteinizing hormone in women?

In women, luteinizing hormone controls the function of the ovaries. Approximately two weeks into a woman’s menstrual cycle, an elevation, or surge, in luteinizing hormone levels causes ovulation to occur which is when an ovary releases an egg. If fertilization of the egg occurs, LH will stimulate the production of progesterone to sustain the pregnancy.

What is the role of luteinizing hormone in men?

In men, luteinizing hormone controls the function of the testes. The LH release causes the production of testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for stimulating sperm production and helps accentuate male characteristics such as a deep voice and growth of facial hair.

Luteinizing hormone levels: standard ranges and issues

Luteinizing hormone has a very important role in the body for both men and women, therefore, a steady balance of this hormone is essential for good health. If the hormone is off balance, it can lead to various health issues.

>>MORE: What is a Hormonal Imbalance?

Individuals with high levels of luteinizing hormone may experience infertility because the hormone directly impacts the reproductive system. In women, high levels of LH are often connected to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which results in inappropriate testosterone levels. Low levels of LH can also result in infertility. In women, low LH can stop ovulation and menstrual periods may not occur regularly. In men, low levels of LH can limit the production of sperm.

What is the luteinizing hormone normal range?

The luteinizing hormone normal range varies for women during different parts of their cycle, as well as if they’re on birth control or post-menopausal. Normal ranges, according to, include:

  • Follicular phase: 1.9 to 12.5 IU/L
  • Peak cycle: 8.7 to 76.3 IU/L
    • Luteal phase: 0.5 to 16.9 IU/L
    • Pregnant women: less than 1.5 IU/L
    • Post-menopausal: 15.9 to 54.0 IU/L
    • On birth control: 0.7 to 5.6 IU/L

    The luteinizing hormone normal range for men varies by age:

    • Between 20-70: 0.7 to 7.9 IU/L
    • Over 70: 3.1 to 34.0 IU/L

    How to increase luteinizing hormone

    If you have low levels of LH, is there any way how to increase your luteinizing hormone? 

    • Determine the cause: Low luteinizing hormone levels might stem from a range of factors, including severe stress, drug use, nutritional problems, and chronic medical diseases, according to MedlinePlus.
    • Estrogen or testosterone replacement therapy: This can come in pill or patch form, and aims to help you produce the sex hormones your body might not be producing because of low luteinizing hormone.
    • Look into supplements: Some supplements, like D-aspartic acid, have increased LH levels in humans. However, you should always consult a doctor before taking any supplements, especially when you’re trying to conceive

    If you suspect problems with LH function, you should seek the help of a qualified reproductive endocrinologist.

    What is the “LH surge?”

    Luteinizing hormone is normally secreted at very low levels throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, once a developing egg follicle reaches a particular size (usually halfway through a woman’s cycle) luteinizing hormone secretion surges to pretty high levels. This surge is what triggers ovulation about 24-36 hours later.

    The LH surge is important because it initiates the beginning of ovulation and your fertile window. If you are trying to get pregnant, this is the best time to start having unprotected sex.

    If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, you would abstain from having unprotected sex during this time.

      How should you track LH?

      Luteinizing hormone is secreted in pulses; therefore, it's necessary to follow the concentration of LH over time to get proper information about its levels. The level of luteinizing hormone fluctuates throughout the day so it's necessary to measure multiple times a day. It is best to measure luteinizing hormone levels at approximately the same time across many days to compare and track your LH levels.

      Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) are an easy way to detect an LH surge. These are similar to pregnancy tests, however, instead of detecting the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), they detect LH levels in your urine.

      >> Oova Insight: Because OPKs work off "standard" hormone levels, they often don't work well for women who have irregular cycles or who have health conditions such as PCOS. 

      Regardless of whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid getting pregnant, or just interested in your general health, luteinizing hormone is a key hormone to monitor and track. It’s why we included it within the Oova kit. LH combined with progesterone will give you the most accurate data you need to achieve your fertility goals.

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