It is a blood test that checks the levels of testosterone, FSH, LH, prolactin, oestradiol and cortisol, i.e. the hormones produced by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the testes that are directly involved in sperm production.
Link between hormones and infertility in men
Spermatogenesis (the production of sperm) in men occurs following the stimulation of the testes by hormones (gonadotrophins or FSH or LH) that are produced in the brain’s pituitary gland. These hormones stimulate the testes to produce testosterone and through it the seminal epithelium to produce a satisfactory number of mature sperm, enough for fertilisation. Any dysfunction in the pituitary gland or the testes in the production of these hormones may have an impact on male fertility.
Also, any dysfunction of these glands may be due to a genetic abnormality in the man, such as Kallman syndrome.
Hormone testing preparation and procedure
In the time period before hormone testing, it is necessary to notify the physician about any substances being taken such as androgens, steroids, clomiphene, oestrogens, etc., as these may affect test results.
The hormone test involves taking blood once, usually in the morning when higher hormone levels are noted.
After the hormone test
Hormone test results are assessed —by the clinician who will use these results to form a comprehensive picture as to the causes of the spermatogenesis problems, and will recommend the appropriate treatment to the couple towards the goal of successful insemination.