Luteinizing Hormone (Blood)
Does this test have other names?
What is this test?
This test measures the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your blood.
LH is made by your pituitary gland. In women, the pituitary sends out LH during the
ovulation part of the menstrual cycle. This tells the ovaries to release a mature
egg. In men, LH causes the testes to make testosterone.
This test can help find out the cause of fertility problems in both men and women.
A higher LH level can help a woman find out the point in her cycle when it's best
to try to conceive.
This test can also help diagnose a pituitary gland disorder.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if you are infertile and your healthcare provider needs to
find out the cause. You may also have this test if you have symptoms of a pituitary
disorder, such as prolactinoma, or a benign tumor in the pituitary gland. Symptoms
You may also have this test if you are having irregular menstrual periods.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests for infertility. If you're a man,
your provider may order a semen analysis, genetic tests, and other blood tests to
measure different hormones. If you're a woman, your provider may order other hormone-level
blood tests and basal body temperature testing. He or she may also order a pelvic
ultrasound and a hysteroscopy to look at the inside of your uterus.
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Results are given in international units per liter (IU/L). The normal range for a
woman varies, depending on her menstrual cycle. Here are normal ranges:
Men: 1.24 to 7.8 IU/L
Women, follicular phase of menstrual cycle: 1.68 to 15 IU/L
Women, midcycle peak: 21.9 to 56.6 IU/L
Women, luteal phase: 0.61 to 16.3 IU/L
Women, postmenopausal: 14.2 to 52.3 IU/L
Girls, ages 1 to 10 years: 0.03 to 3.9 IU/L
If you're a woman, abnormally high levels of LH during non-ovulatory times in your
menstrual cycle may mean you are in menopause. It may also mean that you have a pituitary
disorder or polycystic ovary syndrome. Low levels of LH may mean you have a pituitary
disorder, anorexia, malnutrition, or are under stress.
If you're a man, abnormally high LH levels along with low levels of testosterone may
mean that your testicles aren't responding to LH's signal to make more testosterone.
Low levels of LH may mean that your pituitary gland isn't making enough LH. That can
lead to too little testosterone creation.
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection,
bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight
stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
If you're a woman, your results will vary depending on what day in your menstrual
cycle the test is done.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows
about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes
medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.