What Is a Normal FSH Level to Get Pregnant? (TTC Guide)
We all know that it takes a delicate balance of hormones in order to get pregnant. And one of those key hormones is follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about what FSH is, how it helps you get pregnant, and where your FSH levels should be if you are trying to conceive (TTC). We’ll also cover strategies for balancing and monitoring your personal FSH levels.
What is FSH?
Follicle stimulating hormone (or FSH for short) is a type of gonadotropic hormone critical to the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Its primary role is to stimulate premature ovarian follicles, which are the follicles in your ovaries that will eventually contain your developing egg.
In addition to assisting with the development of ovarian follicles, FSH also helps to initiate the production of estrogen. This part is key because this rise in estrogen further supports follicular development, while also supporting the thickening of the uterine lining (which helps with implantation).
FSH levels and pregnancy
What is a normal FSH level to get pregnant?
The following ranges are based on figures from the University of Rochester Medical Center. Please note that ranges may vary slightly among laboratories.
In women of reproductive age, FSH levels tend to lie within the following ranges:
- Follicular phase – 1.4-9.9 mIU/mL
- Ovulation – 6.2-17.2 mIU/mL
- Luteal phase – 1.1-9.2 mIU/mL
If your FSH levels lie within these ranges, then this is considered “normal” and you should be able to get pregnant as long as other reproductive hormones are also in balance. If your FSH levels do not lie within this range, you may need to speak with your doctor to discuss strategies for increasing or decreasing your FSH levels in order to get pregnant.
To learn more about how FSH levels change, check out our article FSH Levels in Women: What’s Normal? (+ FSH Levels Chart).
What if my FSH levels are too low?
Low FSH levels are rare. However, because FSH is produced by the pituitary gland, low FSH levels could be a sign of a pituitary disorder – such as hypopituitarism. If the pituitary gland is not to blame, low FSH levels could also indicate a problem with the part of the brain that coordinates pituitary functioning. This is known as the hypothalamus.
The most common causes of hypopituitarism and hypothalamic dysfunction include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brain tumors
- Radiation treatment
- Infections like tuberculosis and meningitis
Those with hypopituitarism or hypothalamic dysfunction may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue and/or weakness
- Lack of appetite and/or nausea
- Cold sensitivity
- Sudden weight loss/gain
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Difficulties with getting pregnant
Additionally, women who are severely underweight are also at a greater risk of experiencing low FSH levels. Those with a BMI of below 18.5 should be aware that this can cause serious disruptions to the functioning of the reproductive system.
What if my FSH levels are too high?
In women under the age of 40, high FSH levels can indicate a number of underlying problems with the reproductive system.
One example of this is primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). This occurs when the ovaries either do not function properly or if the number of functioning follicles decreases. When this happens, FSH levels will appear elevated.
Why? Because when fewer follicles are available to develop, the brain signals the production of more FSH to help develop a dominant follicle. Those with POI may experience difficulties with getting pregnant, hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Other possible causes of high FSH levels include Turner Syndrome, ovarian tumors, vitamin D deficiency, and perimenopause/menopause.
Can you change your FSH levels if you’re trying to get pregnant?
With the help of medical assistance and/or lifestyle changes, it may be possible to increase or decrease your FSH levels if you are trying to get pregnant. Here’s what you can do in both scenarios.
How can you increase your FSH levels?
In some cases, increasing FSH is as simple as making a few lifestyle changes to help balance your hormone levels as a whole. This includes:
- Maintaining a balanced pre pregnancy diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources.
- Exercising regularly (the CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week).
- Getting at least 7+ hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Minimizing stress levels to keep cortisol levels low.
- Avoiding potentially harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and non-prescription drugs.
Beyond making necessary lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend taking certain supplements. For example, Maca and tribulus terrestrism have both been found to increase FSH in women. In some cases, doctors may also prescribe a fertility medication called follitropin alfa, which is a hormone injection resembling FSH that helps to stimulate follicular development.
How can you lower your FSH levels?
Lowering FSH levels in order to become pregnant can also involve some dietary and lifestyle changes. For example, soy protein has been found to decrease FSH in premenopausal women. This means you should consider incorporating edamame, tofu, and soymilk into your diet to naturally lower your FSH levels.
In addition to soy, the supplements DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) and omega-3 fatty acid have been found to also help lower FSH. Another medication used in Chinese medicine, the Zishen Yutai pill, is also widely believed to help lower FSH.
It’s important to note here that you should speak with your doctor before starting a new supplement or making any major lifestyle changes. This is the only way to ensure that you get the best treatment for your individual situation.
How can you monitor your FSH levels?
One way that you can monitor your FSH levels is by having a blood test at your doctor’s office. In this scenario, a nurse will typically withdraw a blood sample from your vein. Then, your sample would be sent to an external lab to undergo testing. Once your blood has been tested, the lab will send your results to your doctor. Your doctor will then give you a call or ask you to come in for a consultation to discuss your results with you.
After this initial visit, your doctor may want to have your blood tested regularly over a period of time in order to identify any patterns with FSH and other hormones. They can then provide further guidance based on your fertility and pregnancy goals.
Another way to monitor your FSH levels is by taking an at-home blood test from a company like LetsGetChecked and Everlywell. In this case, you would order your test online, submit a finger-prick blood sample, and mail it back to the lab to be tested. You will then receive your FSH level results via email. What’s handy about these tests is that they can test for other hormones at the same time, including LH, estradiol, and prolactin.
The main downside of at-home blood testing is that the test kits can get expensive fast, and insurance plans typically do not cover their cost. Another downside is that you are left to interpret your results on your own, which can feel isolating if you are using the tests to improve fertility and ultimately get pregnant.
Another less expensive option is to take an at-home urine test. Similar to a standard pregnancy test, an FSH urine test requires you to test your own urine sample. However, unlike with blood testing, you will not receive your exact FSH level results. You will only receive a positive or negative result. A positive result indicates that your FSH levels are above the threshold for menopause, and a negative result indicates that FSH is below the threshold for menopause
If you suspect that your FSH levels are too high, taking a urine FSH test is a relatively cheap and convenient way to start monitoring. Based on your results, you can then make an appointment with your doctor to have more comprehensive blood testing done.
Although Mira does not currently have any FSH wands that can be used for the Mira App and Analyzer, we do have plans to release these test wands in the future. Keep checking back for updates in our shop!
FAQs about FSH levels and pregnancy
What FSH level indicates ovulation?
FSH tends to peak around ovulation, and you can expect your FSH levels to be between 6.2-17.2 mIU/mL during this time of your cycle. However, FSH is not typically a hormone that is used to confirm ovulation. Instead, ovulation can be confirmed by measuring progesterone or PdG levels. This can be done with a blood test, with an ovulation predictor kit, or with Mira’s Confirm Wands.
Can FSH levels determine if I’m pregnant?
No. FSH is not a hormone that can be measured to determine pregnancy. The only hormone that can be tested to confirm pregnancy is hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). The earliest you can test for the presence of this hormone with an at-home pregnancy test is at least one day after the estimated start date of your next period.
To learn more about confirming an early pregnancy, check out our articles When to Take a Pregnancy Test Based on Science and Ovulation and 16 Early Signs of Pregnancy: What to Expect in the First Few Weeks.