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Follicle hormone or the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is one of the chemical messengers produced by the pituitary gland. This hormone is one of the important hormones in the sexual maturation and functioning of both males and females.

Effects of Follicle hormone on pubertal maturation

In general, the follicle hormone is essential for the formation of follicles (or eggs) in the ovary of a woman while it is necessary for the production of sperms in men. While it promotes sexual reproduction when in normal levels, it can delay or prevent the same process when present in abnormally high or low levels. FSH testing is frequently advised in boys and girls in pubertal age when a delay or early initiation of the pubertal maturation is noted. In case of adults, FSH tests are advised when problems such as infertility (in both men and women) and irregular menstrual cycles are complained of. 

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Effects on pubertal maturation

The follicle hormone plays an important role in the reproductive function during puberty. It has been reported that the follicle hormone regulates the growth, development, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes in the human body. FSH acts synergistically with another hormone known as luteinizing hormone (LH) to regulate the reproduction process.

Pubertal maturation is a complex process that is regulated by a number of hormones. Follicle hormone is one such hormone that has crucial effects on pubertal maturation. The FSH is essential for maturation and proper growth of the reproductive organs such as the testes and the ovaries. During pubertal maturation in boys, FSH causes the testes to begin producing the male sexual hormone called testosterone which in turn, is responsible for the physical changes and production of sperms. In case of girls, the follicle hormone in association with the LH brings about the production of estrogen in the ovaries. This process causes the sexual maturation of the girls and prepares them for the menstruation cycle.

Abnormally high or low levels of FSH during puberty can hamper the normal pubertal maturation. When present in abnormally high levels in children around the pubertal age it can initiate the pubertal maturation earlier than normal, a condition commonly referred to as precocious puberty. If present in low levels, it can delay the sexual maturation process in both boys and girls with delayed menstruation changes in girls.

 

Effects of follicle hormone in women

The main action of follicle hormone in women is on the formation of the Graafian follicle (the mature egg necessary for reproduction) in conjugation with the luteinizing hormone. In case of women who are menstruating the normal levels of the follicle hormone ranges from 3.5-3.0 IU/L. The production of the follicle hormone is high during the maturation process of the follicles after which the levels decrease gradually. Additionally, the FSH is responsible for the production of another hormone known as estradiol which helps in maturation of a single follicle necessary for reproduction to occur. In normal circumstances, a rhythmic alteration in the levels of FSH occurs according to the menstruation pattern. However, in certain situations, owing to some underlying conditions, the production of FSH may be altered. Onset of menopause is generally associated with a rise in the FSH levels. Abnormalities in the levels of follicle hormone can hamper the natural reproduction process leading to infertility problems. Disturbances in the menstrual cycle are also common in women with abnormal levels of FSH. Other problems that are either associated or bring about variations in the FSH levels include conditions such as polycystic ovarian disease, ovarian cysts or irregular vaginal bleeding.

 

Effects of follicle hormone in men

Follicle hormone promotes the maturation of the tubules (small tubes) within the testes and the sperms. Thereby, FSH plays an important role in the development of the testes and its reproductive functions. The male sexual hormone called testosterone is necessary for the formation of the sperms and FSH has a vital role in activating this hormone. Thereby FSH has a role in both formation and maturation of the sperms necessary for sexual reproduction. A mature adult male has about 1.5-12.4 IU/L of FSH in his blood. Abnormal levels can be associated with conditions such as infertility and delayed or decreased sexual maturation. Men with low FSH levels are noted to suffer from conditions such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, infertility, and low energy. When follicle hormone is present in low levels at different stages of life (before birth, during puberty and during adult life) it can affect the growth and functioning of the genital organs. While the presence of FSH is required in women all through the menstrual cycle, the same is not true in case of the maturation of the sperms in men. Once initiated by the action of FSH, the sperm maturation process continues under the influence of testosterone.
 

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Measuring FSH levels

Abnormalities in the pubertal maturation and sexual reproduction may often occur due to alteration in the FSH levels in our body. FSH tests are commonly advised in younger boys and girls when, alterations in the general growth and maturation of the reproductive organs or in the initiation of menstrual cycle is noted. In case of adults FSH test is advised when premature menopause, presence of underlying disorders affecting the FSH levels and other problems such as infertility, alteration in menstrual cycle or decreased development and functioning of the testes is noted. This test is a blood test wherein the blood collected from the vein is sent to laboratory for analysis of the FSH levels in blood.

 

Conclusion

Pubertal maturation and reproduction is complex process dependent on a number of factors and hormones for proper functioning. Follicle hormone’s effects on pubertal maturation are very delicately balanced. Alterations in the levels of follicle hormone may lead to abnormal sexual development and maturation of both men and women. As women begin to reach menopause, the FSH levels gradually begin to rise reaching 40-250 IU/L wherein the formation and maturation of the follicles almost comes to a complete standstill. In case of women of reproductive age, high FSH levels are often associated with infertility and, reduction of FSH levels in such women can frequently lead to a successful pregnancy.
 

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Follicle-stimulating_hormone
  • emedicine.medscape.com/article/118810-overview
  • www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003710.htm
  • kidshealth.org/parent/system/medical/blood_test_fsh.html#