Luteinizing hormone (LH) blood test
The LH blood test measures the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in blood. LH is a hormone released by the pituitary gland, located on the underside of the brain.
ICSH - blood test; Luteinizing hormone - blood test; Interstitial cell stimulating hormone - blood test
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed.
How to Prepare for the Test
Your health care provider will ask you to temporarily stop medicines that may affect the test results. Be sure to tell your provider about all the medicines you take. These include:
- Birth control pills
- Hormone therapy
- DHEA (a supplement)
If you are a woman of childbearing age, the test may need to be done on a specific day of your menstrual cycle. Tell your provider if you have recently been exposed to radioisotopes, such as during a nuclear medicine test.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.
Why the Test is Performed
In women, an increase in LH level at mid-cycle causes release of eggs (ovulation). Your doctor will order this test to see if:
- You are ovulating, when you are having trouble getting pregnant or have periods that are not regular
- You have reached menopause
If you are a man, the test may be ordered if you have signs of infertility or lowered sex drive. The test may be ordered if you have signs of a pituitary gland problem.
Normal results for adult women are:
- Before menopause: 5 to 25 IU/L
- Level peaks even higher around the middle of the menstrual cycle
- Level then becomes higher in women after menopause: 14.2 to 52.3 IU/L
LH levels are normally low during childhood.
Normal result for men over 18 years of age is around 1.8 to 8.6 IU/L.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test result.
What Abnormal Results Mean
In women, a higher than normal level of LH is seen:
- When women of childbearing age are not ovulating
- When there is an imbalance of female sex hormones (such as with polycystic ovary syndrome)
- During or after menopause
- Turner syndrome
- When the ovaries produce little or no hormones (ovarian hypofunction)
In men, a higher than normal level of LH may be due to:
In children, a higher than normal level is seen in early (precocious) puberty.
A lower than normal level of LH may be due to the pituitary gland not making enough hormone (hypopituitarism).
Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Borawski D, Bluth MH. Reproductive function and pregnancy. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 25.
Carmina E, Stanczyk FZ, Lobo RA. Laboratory assessment. In: Strauss JF, Barbieri RL, eds. Yen and Jaffe's Reproductive Endocrinology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 34.
Reviewed By:Daniel N. Sacks MD, FACOG, obstetrics & gynecology in private practice, West Palm Beach, FL. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.