Luteinizing hormone stimulates the testes in males and the ovaries in females. This hormone is vital for reproductive health.

What is Luteinizing Hormone?

Luteinizing hormone (LH) a hormone released by the pituitary gland in response to luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) [1]. LHRH is released from the hypothalamus.

LH is a gonadotropic hormone and controls the functions of the female ovaries and male testes. It is also essential for proper reproductive function.

In males, it is also called the Interstitial cell stimulating hormone (ICSH) [2].

In general, when estrogen and progesterone levels fall, LH levels rise. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is synergistic with LH.

Function In Women

In women, luteinizing hormone (LH) carries out different roles in the two halves of the menstrual cycle.

In weeks 1 – 2 of the cycle, LH is required to stimulate the ovarian follicles in the ovary to produce the female sex hormone, estradiol.

Later a surge in LH levels causes Ovulation. In the remainder of the cycle, LH stimulates the corpus luteum to produce progesterone which is required to support the early stages of pregnancy, if fertilization occurs [1].

Function In Men

Luteinizing hormone stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone. If testosterone levels decrease, LH secretion increases. This is known as negative feedback.

Testosterone, in turn, stimulates sperm production as well as generating male characteristics throughout the body [1].

Low Luteinizing Hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH) deficiency is uncommon on its own; LH deficiency almost always occurs with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) deficiency because these hormones are both secreted by the same sets of cells [3, 4].

Associated Risks

In women, low LH levels can cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle, and can interfere with getting pregnant [1].

In men, low levels of LH will limit sperm production and can cause infertility [5].

Symptoms

  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods (in women) [6]
  • Loss of body and facial hair (in men) [7]
  • Erectile dysfunction and/or decreased libido (in men) [7]
  • Infertility in both women and men [1, 8]

Causes

  • Hypopituitarism [9]
  • Hypogonadism [10, 11]
  • Delayed puberty [12]
  • Kallmann’s syndrome [13] – caused by a deficiency in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (i.e., LHRH). It can result in a lack of sexual development, a small penis, undeveloped testes, and a delay in or lack of puberty [13].

Low LH can also be caused by:

  • Smoking cigarettes and marijuana  [14, 15]
  • Vitamin D deficiency [16, 17, 18]
  • Tumors in the pituitary gland [19]

The heart failure medication Digoxin (Lanoxin or Digox) can also cause low LH levels [20].

How to Increase It

Decreasing smoking or marijuana use may help prevent low luteinizing hormone levels [14, 15].

Supplements that can help:

  • D-aspartic acid [21]
  • Forskolin [22]
  • Resveratrol [23]
  • Omega 3 (which also can increase FSH) [24]
  • Vitamin D [17]
  • Garlic [25, 26, 27]
  • Licorice (in men) [28]

High Luteinizing Hormone

High luteinizing hormone (LH) levels can cause fertility problems. Women with LH levels higher than the normal range have lower rates of fertilization and pregnancy [1]. In men, high levels may indicate testicular failure and infertility [5].

High LH levels are seen in genetic conditions such as Klinefelter’s syndrome. Klinefelter’s syndrome shrinks your testes and causes them to not produce enough testosterone for sperm production [29].

Associated Risks

In postmenopausal women, an increase in LH levels can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease development. LH has been shown to promote the deposition of amyloid β plaques in the hippocampus [30].

Women with an LH level greater than one standard deviation above the average have a decrease in the rate of fertilization [1].

Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS) have a high pulsatile level of LH [31].

Symptoms

  • Absent or irregular menstrual cycles (in women) [32]
  • Infertility in both women and men [33, 8]

Causes

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [34, 6]
  • Early (precocious) puberty [35]
  • Genetic abnormalities (mutations in the luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin receptor that cause ambiguous genitalia and infertility) [36]
  • Tumors in ovaries [37]
  • Thyroid disorders [38]

Testicular failure can also cause high luteinizing hormone levels. This can be caused by:

  • Thyroid disorders [39]
  • Viral infections [40]
  • Tumors [41]
  • Radiation [42]
  • Radiation therapy [43]
  • Chromosomal disorders, such as Klinefelter syndrome [44]

How to Decrease LH

Exercising regularly may help lower your luteinizing hormone levels [45].

Since testosterone can inhibit luteinizing hormone, increasing your testosterone levels can help decrease high LH levels [46]. Check your testosterone levels, and lifestyle and supplement suggestions associated with testosterone.

Supplements that can help:

Luteinizing Hormone Test

An LH test measures the amount of Luteinizing Hormone in the sample of blood or urine. It may be done to find the cause of a couple’s inability to become pregnant. LH test is commonly used to evaluate:

  • A woman’s egg supply (ovarian reserve)
  • A man’s sperm count
  • menstrual problems in women.
  • a women’s response to medicines taken to stimulate ovulation.

Normal Range

  • women in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle: 1.9 to 12.5 IU/L
  • women at the peak of the menstrual cycle: 8.7 to 76.3 IU/L
  • women in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle: 0.5 to 16.9 IU/L
  • pregnant women: less than 1.5 IU/L
  • women past menopause: 15.9 to 54.0 IU/L
  • women using contraceptives: 0.7 to 5.6 IU/L
  • men between the ages of 20 and 70: 0.7 to 7.9 IU/L
  • men over 70: 3.1 to 34.0 IU/L

Irregular Luteinizing Hormone Levels?

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