We've heard and probably seen the 'Rocket Thrust' - the final force that propels it! Ever imagined you could draw an analogy with those ovaries? Well studies have shown that the LH peaks about 24-48 hours before ovulation. This LH surge is the hormonal signal that woos the egg out of its matured follicle (sac) and into the zone (the fallopian tube) where it could potentially be fertilized. Should fertilization occur, LH will stimulate the corpus luteum to produce progesterone which maintains the fetus early on. Keep in mind that high LH does not always mean ovulation is coming up! 

What Is Luteinizing Hormone?

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is gonadotropic hormone produced and released in the anterior pituitary gland (a pea shaped tiny organ found at the base of the brain). It is one of the important hormones involved in controlling the reproductive system wherein it regulates the function of gonads i.e the ovaries.

Role Of Luteinizing Hormone Levels

LH levels regulate the length and order of menstrual cycles. Tracking LH is important so as to ensure your body is functioning well and ovulation occurs regularly. During different phases of the menstrual cycles, it carries out different roles as follows: 

1. Estradiol Production: 

Estradiol (E2), an important form of the reproductive hormone estrogen plays a vital role in first maturing and then maintaining the reproductive system. In women, LH stirs up the production of E2 by stimulating the tiny follicles in the ovary. This mechanism usually gears up during weeks one to two of the cycle. 

2. Understanding Ovulation:

Fact: 

Ovulation is the process your body goes through while releasing a mature egg from the ovary. During the second week of the cycle (around day 14), the preovulatory LH surge (large outburst of LH secretion) occurs wherein the follicles tend to tear and release the mature oocyte from the ovary, thereby, leading to ovulation. 

Implication: 

Ovulation brings about hormonal shifts across your natural menstrual cycles, specifically LH surges are necessary for ovulation. There are high chances of conception if a sperm is near the egg once released into the fallopian tube. Testing your hormones can help ensure there’s nothing interfering with ovulation.

3. Progesterone Production: 

Post ovulation (3rd and 4th week of the cycle), the residual cells that are not released with the mature egg begin to accumulate and form a structure called the corpus luteum. LH further stimulates the corpus luteum to secrete Progesterone, a hormone that will prepare the uterine environment to help nurture the pregnancy. In the occurrence of fertilization, progesterone is generally involved in supporting the early stages of pregnancy, conception and egg implantation.

4. Understanding Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (FHA): 

Fact: 

Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is a form of amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) that results due to various causes such as stress, weight loss and excessive exercise. This condition is characterized by abnormal GnRH (Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone) secretion which in turn disturbs the secretion of gonadotropins - FSH and LH. FHA negatively intervenes in the mid-cycle surge of LH secretion which inturn disturbs the ovulation process. Generally, women diagnosed with FHA are more likely to show elevated E2 levels and low or normal levels of FSH and LH.

Implication: 

Should your results indicate an elevated risk for FHA, consulting your doctor and understanding the cause of the condition coupled with medications and follow-up treatment procedures can help you manage the condition effectively and efficiently.

When Can I Do A LH Test?

Usually, LH levels are lower when the menstrual cycle begins and surges right before ovulation (Day 14 of the cycle). Considering these fluctuations, it is advised to test your LH levels during day 3 of the cycle. This can give better insights on your baseline LH. 

What Can Differing LH Levels Tell You?

1. Normal LH Levels

For women, the normal LH levels range from 1.68-15 mIU/L. 

2. High LH Levels

Women facing high levels of LH production may face infertility issues and menstrual difficulties as the hormone directly impacts reproductive ability. High levels of LH are generally connected to PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which may indicate an imbalance in LH and FSH which can result in an inappropriate production of testosterone. Studies suggest that the rate of miscarriages were higher in those who had elevated levels of LH compared to those who had ongoing pregnancies.1

3. Low LH Levels 

Low levels of LH may also be a cause for infertility since it indicates that ovulation does not occur regularly. A common effect of low LH levels is Functional Hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA) or absence of menstrual periods during a woman’s reproductive years.

Where Can I Get My LH Levels Tested?

Curious to know more about your LH levels and how you can manage your fertility better? We  have got you covered. 

Order your OvaScore kit and learn about all your reproductive hormones and the relevant insights from the comfort and privacy of your home.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136063/ 

References