Hormone test for fertility

Testing the primary female sex hormones is part of process that helps us direct IVF treatment and following initial consultations and physical examination. Usually it takes place during woman’s period, to check for hormone imbalances – measurement of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinising hormone) and E2 (oestrogen). These tests can also identify the cause of subfertility and help direct the way that we manage your treatment protocols.

There is no single hormone test for fertility. Instead, a specialist will offer their patients a range of blood (or sometimes urine) tests to check the different levels of different hormones being produced within the body. These tests may include:

  • Androgen tests
  • Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) tests
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) tests
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH) tests
  • Oestradiol tests
  • Prolactin tests
  • Serum progesterone tests

Below, we will explain each of these possible tests.

Androgen

The most well-known androgen is testosterone, which often leads to the assumption that they are only a male hormone. However, this is not the case. Androgens are also important for the health of the female body, and androgen tests may be carried out for different purposes, depending on whether the patient is biologically male or biologically female. 

For a biologically female patient, an androgen test may be carried out to evaluate conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Meanwhile, the same test for a male patient might be used to find the cause of a low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or other issues related to infertility.

Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH)

Testing for AMH allows specialists to get an accurate reflection of a patient’s ovarian reserve (how many eggs they have available). This informs them of how many eggs they are likely to have left and offers better insight into whether IVF cycles are likely to see success. 

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

This blood test serves multiple purposes, depending on whether the patient is male or female and their age. In adult female patients, it can be used to evaluate things such as egg supply and ovarian function. For adult male patients, the test may instead be used to determine sperm count or problems with the testicles. For child patients, the test may also be used to determine if they have started puberty early, or are experiencing delayed puberty.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

Similar to the FSH test, the LH test may also be carried out on both male and female patients. For female patients, it can be performed at the beginning of a menstrual cycle to help diagnose hormonal imbalances such as PCOS. It can also be performed halfway through a patient’s menstrual cycle (around Day 14) to determine when they should be ovulating.

For male patients, the LH test may be able to help evaluate male factor infertility, as the hormone is important for the stimulation of testosterone. This affects sperm production.

Oestradiol

This is an important form of oestrogen, and the test for it is used to measure a patient’s ovarian function. The test also evaluates the quality of the patient’s eggs.

Prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone made by the pituitary gland. It stimulates the production of milk within the body. For female patients, a prolactin test will normally be carried out if there is a need to evaluate infertility, if a specialist needs to determine why their patient is not ovulating, or if the patient has certain symptoms (such as nipple discharge). 

Male patients may also require this test, even though most will assume that this hormone only occurs in people born female. A specialist may recommend that a male patient has this test carried out if they are experiencing a lack of sexual desire, having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, or if a doctor has suggested that there may be an issue with the pituitary gland.

Serum Progesterone

A serum progesterone test checks the amount of progesterone present in a female patient’s blood. The hormone itself is produced by the ovaries during ovulation and prepares the endometrial lining of the uterus to make it receptive to fertilised eggs. By monitoring the levels of progesterone in a patient’s body, a doctor can then confirm whether ovulation has occurred or not.