FSH or the follicle stimulating hormone is released by the pituitary gland in the brain when the body wants an egg to be matured by the ovaries. The eggs themselves control the communication between the brain and the ovaries and if abnormal amounts of FSH are released by the brain, it indicates that there is something wrong with the quality of the eggs.
Poor egg quality can cause infertility. Good egg quality is determined by the presence of the proper chromosomes and the ability of those chromosomes to combine with sperm. In addition, eggs also need energy to implant on the inner lining of the uterus, divide after fertilization and grow and mature into a healthy embryo. This energy is supplied by the mitochondria present in them. Every woman has good and bad quality eggs in her ovaries but the number of good eggs declines after the age of 30.
In addition, the energy produced by the mitochondria reduces with advancing age. Hence, egg quality is affected by advancing age. The presence of poor quality eggs can make it difficult for a woman to not only become pregnant but also to maintain pregnancy. Hence, poor quality eggs are the primary cause of infertility in women. Egg quality can be tested by tests such as the Day 3 FSH test and the Clomid challenge test.
Day 3 FSH Test
This test is a blood test performed on the third day of a woman’s menstrual cycle to measure the amount of follicle stimulating hormone present in her bloodstream. High levels of FSH indicate that the ovarian reserve (the quantity and quality of eggs) is low. This can further indicate that the woman being tested has fertility issues and will have difficulty getting pregnant and maintaining pregnancy.
Clomid Challenge Test
This test is a blood test that measures the amount of follicle stimulating hormone in the form of Estradiol present in the bloodstream on day 3 of the menstrual cycle. Clomid is administered from day 5 to day 9 of the cycle and FSH levels are again tested on day 10 of the cycle. All three blood test levels should be in the normal range for the test results to be considered normal. If FSH levels are elevated on day 10 of the menstrual cycle, lowered ovarian reserve is indicated. This test is more accurate than the Day 3 FSH test.
Women suffering from infertility due to poor egg quality can be injected with follicle stimulating hormones such as gonadotropins to gain information of their egg quality. This can be obtained by studying the response of the ovaries to the FSH.
Clomid is known as the fertility drug. Ovaries with diminished reserve still have eggs that can culminate in a pregnancy. Clomid encourages ovulation and administration of Clomid can help treat infertility caused by poor quality eggs. However, it should not be taken for more than six menstrual cycles as there are several side effects such as dizziness, depression, bowel problems, headaches and depression associated with this medication.
FSH and Clomid are commonly used in infertility treatments to help women conceive.