Hormones heavily control the human body’s reproductive system, and luteinizing hormone is one of those hormones. With different roles in the bodies of men and women, this important hormone is crucial to ensuring a healthy reproductive system. Taking control of your reproductive health requires understanding this essential hormone.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) is produced and released in the anterior pituitary gland. This hormone is considered a gonadotrophic hormone because of its role in controlling the function of ovaries in females and testes in males, which are known as the gonads.
What does luteinizing hormone do?
In women, the hormone stimulates the ovaries to produce oestradiol. Two weeks into a woman's cycle, a surge in luteinizing hormone causes the ovaries to release an egg during ovulation. If fertilization occurs, luteinizing hormone will stimulate the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone to sustain the pregnancy.
For men, luteinizing hormone stimulates the production of testosterone from Leydig cells in the testes. Testosterone, in turn, stimulates sperm production and helps accentuate male characteristics — like a deep voice or growth of facial hair.
What problems can occur with luteinizing hormone?
People who have high levels of luteinizing hormone may experience infertility, because the hormone directly impacts the reproductive system. In women, luteinizing hormone levels that are too high are often connected to polycystic ovary syndrome, which creates inappropriate testosterone levels. Some genetic conditions, like Turner syndrome or Klinefelter syndrome, can cause high levels of the hormone, as well. People with these conditions are often unable to reproduce.
Low levels of luteinizing hormone can also cause infertility, because insufficient levels will limit the production of sperm or the ovulation process. Too little luteinizing hormone stops ovulation in women or creates a deficiency in gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion in men.
Questions to ask your doctor
If you are struggling with infertility or other reproductive-system complaints, poor luteinizing hormone levels may be to blame. Talk to your doctor about blood tests you can have to test these levels. Consider asking:
If you suspect problems with luteinizing hormone function, you will need the help of a qualified endocrinologist. Hormone stability can be a delicate balancing act, which is why you want to work with a hormone specialist. Find an endocrinologist today to discuss your symptoms.
The Hormone Health Network is the public education affiliate of the Endocrine Society dedicated to helping both patients and doctors find information on the prevention, treatment and cure of hormone-related conditions.
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