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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 LH is, how it's related to your cycle, potential problems, and how to track your LH.

What It Is  The LH Surge  Potential Problems   Tracking LH

What is LH?

LH is a hormone that is critical for regulating and controlling the reproductive system.

LH 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. LH is known as a gonadotropin and affects the sex organs in both men and women. 

What is the role of LH in women?

In women, LH controls the function of the ovaries. Approximately two weeks into a woman’s menstrual cycle, an elevation, or surge, in LH 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 LH in men?

In men, LH controls the function of the testes. 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.

What is the LH surge?

LH 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) LH 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.

>>RELATED: How Can I Tell If I'm Ovulating? How to Find and Test Your Fertile Window

What are some issues associated with LH?

LH 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.

Individuals with high levels of LH 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.

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

How should you track LH?

LH 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 LH fluctuates throughout the day so it's necessary to measure multiple times a day. It is best to measure LH 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, LH 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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