If you’re undergoing the fertility journey, then you likely know about FSH (follicle stimulating hormone. For women, your level of FSH is dependent on the feedback loop between your ovaries and your pituitary gland. Because the pituitary gland is a master gland coordinating many hormones and responding to various signals, its function is not set in stone. FSH levels reflect a delicate balance between several glands and hormones. When our Toronto naturopaths work holistically to balance hormones, FSH can often be regulated to within normal levels, depending on the reason why it was high or low to begin with.
FSH levels are tested in the blood on day three of the menstrual cycle (third day of menstrual bleeding), as are LH and Estrogen levels. It is made in the pituitary gland, located in the brain, and its function is to stimulate the ovaries which then produce estrogen and develop mature eggs. The estrogen produced in the ovaries tells the pituitary gland that its job is being accomplished, and when the pituitary gets that message it makes less FSH. This is why FSH increases with age as well as with ovarian dysfunction, and why it increases much more significantly during menopause. FSH may also be low at times due to very low body weight or very high stress, both of which directly affect the pituitary gland’s production of the hormone.
Thorough bloodwork can help problem solve an abnormal day 3 FSH level. This is important because an abnormal FSH level is not the cause of infertility but simply an indicator that something in the complex endocrine system is imbalanced. Your naturopath is likely to order bloodwork to investigate the role of your thyroid and adrenal glands. They also look at progesterone, another aspect of ovarian function that’s very important for fertility. Insulin resistance, high levels of inflammation and insufficient nutrient status can all play a role and are easily tested for in the blood. Herbal medicine, supplementation, dietary and lifestyle plans can then be targeted for each individual.
Solid nutrition is the foundation for healthy FSH levels for your age, as well as for fertility. Working to get sufficient healthy fats into your diet from various sources is key because fats are literal building blocks for hormones. However, not all fats are made equal. Most people are also afraid to eat enough of the right fats due to decades of misinformation about them, and many others are consuming poor quality fats in foods or supplements due to a confusing health food industry with many low quality products on the market. There are also foods that may be interfering with fertility. Forming nutritional habits that work best for your body, and your goals, is a major part of the process when you work with our Toronto naturopaths.
Whether you are navigating fertility treatment, trying to conceive or looking into your long term menstrual health, here is what’s most important: support for your whole self including a healthy mood and a good stress response, restorative sleep, quality nutrition and good digestion. No part of you should get left behind in the fertility journey.