Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Shreya Gupta
BDS, MDS - Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Luteinising Hormone

You need to provide
This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. Please provide the last day of your menstrual cycle at the time of sample collection.
  2. In females, preferred sampling time is day 2 or 3 of menstrual cycle.
  3. No special preparation required


What is LH?

Luteinizing hormone (LH) test measures its level in your blood. LH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that plays a key role in both the male and female reproductive systems. LH works closely with another hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to control sexual functions. Therefore, FSH level is often measured along with LH.
If a woman is trying to become pregnant, the doctor might want to get an LH test multiple times to pinpoint the timing of egg release and increase the chances of conception. This test is also used to diagnose causes of infertility in males as well.

Why is LH done?

The following could be reasons why LH test is advised by your physician:

  • Infertility in women (difficulty in getting pregnant)

  • Irregular menstruation in women

  • Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea) in women

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in women

  • Infertility in men 

  • Conditions affecting pituitary gland in men and women

  • Conditions affecting the hypothalamus in men and women

  • Low testosterone level in men

  • Low sex drive in men

  • Low muscle mass in men

  • Underdeveloped or absent testicles in men

What does LH Measure?

Luteinizing hormone is associated with reproduction and ovulation. In females, it stimulates the release of an egg from the ovary. However, in males, testosterone production is dependent on LH. This test helps in measuring the amount of LH present in the blood.

 LH is produced by the pituitary gland, and its production is controlled by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the hormones produced by the ovaries (in women) or testicles (in men).

 In premenopausal women, LH stimulates ovulation and the production of other hormones, estradiol, and progesterone. The menstrual cycle is divided into 2 phases, follicular and luteal phases, each of these last for about 14 days. Near the end of the follicular phase, there is a mid-cycle increase in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and LH. This triggers ovulation. During the luteal phase, LH secretion stimulates the corpus luteum to start producing progesterone. At this point, FSH and LH levels get reduced, while progesterone and estradiol concentrations rise. If the egg is not fertilized, then the levels of these hormones fall after several days followed by the beginning of the next menstrual cycle. With the onset of menopause ovarian function reduces and eventually discontinues, which results in increased levels of FSH and LH.

 In men, LH stimulates Leydig cells in the testicles to produce testosterone. However, LH levels remain relatively constant in men after puberty. A high testosterone level provides negative feedback to the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, thus decreasing the amount of LH secreted.

 In infants and children, LH levels rise shortly after birth and then fall to very low levels (by 6 months in boys and 1-2 years in girls). At about 6-8 years of age, levels again rise before the beginning of puberty and secondary sexual characteristics development.

Interpreting LH results


The following values are considered to be normal, LH blood levels measured in international units per liter (IU/L):


·       Follicular phase of the menstrual cycle: 1.9 to 12.5 IU/L

·       LH surge: 8.7 to 76.3 IU/L

·       Luteal phase of the menstrual cycle: 0.5 to 16.9 IU/L

·       Pregnancy: less than 1.5 IU/L

·       Post-menopause: 15.9 to 54.0 IU/L

·       Women using contraceptives: 0.7 to 5.6 IU/L


·       Age group of 20 and 70 years: 0.7 to 7.9 IU/L

·       >70 years of age: 3.1 to 34.0 IU/L

Reference values may vary from lab to lab*

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about LH

Frequently Asked Questions about Luteinising Hormone

Q. What additional tests can be advised by the doctor other than LH test to check infertility?
Besides LH level, FSH test and body temperature tracking (rises slightly during ovulation) may be required. Other hormonal tests, as well as a postcoital (after intercourse) examination, may also help to check infertility. A hysterosalpingogram (image of fallopian tubes) may be advised to see whether fallopian tubes are blocked. Even partner’s semen sample may be asked for analysis.
Q. Is there any special preparation required before taking LH test?
You may be required to stop taking certain medications that can affect the results such as birth control pills, hormone therapy, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone supplements. Birth control or other hormone pills may be required to be stopped for up to four weeks before the test. You may be asked to avoid eating or drinking for up to eight hours before the test, just like any other blood test. Inform your physician, if you have had any type of test/procedure with a radioactive substance within seven days before the LH blood test. The reason being that, these substances can interfere with the results of your test.
Q. How LH test results are interpreted in children?
In young children, high levels of LH and FSH with the development of secondary sexual characteristics at an unusually young age are an indication of precocious puberty. Usually, this premature development is due to impaired functioning of the central nervous system. It can also have a few different underlying causes such as: · Central nervous system tumor · Brain injury, trauma · Inflammation within the central nervous system (e.g., meningitis, encephalitis) · Brain surgery Normal prepubescent levels of LH and FSH in children showing some signs of pubertal changes may indicate a condition called "precocious pseudopuberty". The signs and symptoms are caused by elevated levels of the hormones estrogen or testosterone. This may be caused by: · Hormone-secreting tumors · Adrenal gland tumors · Ovarian tumors or cysts · Testicular tumors However, normal FSH and LH levels with a few signs of puberty can also indicate a benign form of precocious puberty, with no underlying or discernible cause, or may just be a normal variation of puberty. In delayed puberty, LH and FSH levels can be normal or below considerable range. The test for LH response to GnRH in addition to other tests may help to diagnose the reason for the delayed puberty. Some of the underlying causes of delayed puberty can include: · Failure of the ovaries or testicles · Hormone deficiency · Turner syndrome · Klinefelter syndrome · Chronic infections · Cancer · Eating disorder (anorexia nervosa)
Q. How LH test results are interpreted in men?
Primary testicular failure: High levels of LH may indicate primary testicular failure. The following can be the causes: · Developmental defects: Failure to develop gonads (gonadal agenesis) · Chromosomal abnormality such as Klinefelter syndrome · Testicular failure: Viral infection (mumps), Trauma, Exposure to radiation, Chemotherapy, and Autoimmune disease · Germ cell tumor · Testicular injury Secondary failure: Low levels of LH and FSH can be seen in case of secondary failure of the testicles. This may indicate a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
Q. How LH test results are interpreted in women?
In women, there are two types of ovarian failure, primary and secondary. This test helps to analyze LH and FSH levels which can in turn help to differentiate between the two types of ovarian failure. Primary ovarian failure is when the problem is within the ovaries or there is a lack of ovarian development. However, secondary ovarian failure occurs due to disorders of either the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. Primary ovarian failure: In this, the levels of LH and FSH rise. The following can be some causes of primary ovarian failure: · Developmental defects: Failure to develop ovaries (ovarian agenesis) · Chromosomal abnormality: Turner syndrome · Defect in steroid production by the ovaries such as 17 alpha-hydroxylase deficiency · Premature ovarian failure due to exposure to radiation, chemotherapy, and autoimmune disease · Chronic failure to ovulate (anovulation) due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), adrenal disease, thyroid disease, and ovarian tumor · Menopause: In this, a woman's ovaries cease to function; thus, it results in increased levels of LH. Secondary ovarian failure: In this, low levels of LH and FSH are observed which indicates a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Here, LH response to GnRH can help differentiate between secondary dysfunction and tertiary disorder (a problem involving the hypothalamus). Following baseline level of LH measurement, a dose of GnRH is given by injection. A subsequent increase in LH level shows that the pituitary gland responded to the GnRH and indicates a disorder involving the hypothalamus. However, a reduced level of LH shows that the pituitary gland did not respond to the GnRH and suggests a disease involving the pituitary gland.
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