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The Hormone Series: Part III, Luteinizing Hormone.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is produced by produced by the anterior portion of the pituitary gland and is one of the main hormones that control the reproductive system.

When the body’s levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) rise, it triggers the start of ovulation, and the most fertile period of the menstrual cycle occurs. Levels of LH are low for most of the monthly menstrual cycle. However, around the middle of the cycle, when the developing egg reaches a certain size, LH levels surge to become very high.

The LH surge begins around 36 hours before ovulation. Once the egg is released, it survives for about 24 hours, after which time the fertile window is over. If fertilization occurs, luteinizing hormone will stimulate the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone to sustain pregnancy.

Normally, sex hormones are secreted at a steady pulse rate. In women with PCOS, LH is secreted at a rapid pulse rate. This, in turn, sends signals to your ovaries to pump out higher levels of male hormones, such as testosterone. (For men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone from Leydig cells in the testes.) As a result, too much LH and testosterone cause an imbalance of other sex hormones that work to control your menstrual cycle + ovulation.

Dr. Raquel Hammonds

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