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What is High FSH, Really?

Posted Jun 14 2011 12:00am
According to a new report, the diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure , which is determined by high FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels, is often given incorrectly by infertility experts. This is because there is some disagreement as to how high is too high when it comes to levels of this hormone in women.

According to infertility expert Dr. Norbert Gleicher from the Center for Human Reproduction in New York, many fertility experts consider anything above 10 miu/mL abnormal. However, he says, according to established studies FSH levels naturally rise with age. Therefore, a 21 year old would have a different “normal” FSH than a 37 year old. Because of this, Dr. Gleicher and his collegues adapted a new sliding scale for FSH levels that adapts with age and anything over 40 miu/mL (for woman under 40 years of age) is considered high.

Why does this matter?
Women who are incorrectly diagnosed with POF are often told that the likelihood of them conceiving children on their own is very slim. Therefore, they are referred to egg donor programs and loose the possibility of having a child genetically related to them. Fertility experts, such as Dr. Gleicher, say that many of these women are simply misdiagnosed and with the correct treatment may be able to have children using their own eggs.
“True POF affects only approximately 1% of all women,” reads a statement from the CHR. “However, approximately 10% of all women experience a premature decline of ovarian function, which is milder than outright POF. This milder decline in ovarian function is called Premature Ovarian Aging (POA) or Occult Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (OPOI).”
Women diagnosed with POA have a high likelihood of infertility treatment success without using donor eggs.

Misdiagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure May Lead to Unnecessary Infertility Treatments
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