The effects of elevated luteinizing hormone levels can vary. Typically, elevated levels around the middle of a woman's menstrual cycle stimulate ovulation, but sometimes the effects are not beneficial. When levels are high during other times of the cycle, the hormone can interfere with ovulation and contribute to irregular periods and infertility. In fact, high levels of luteinizing hormone are also associated with a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. Additionally, high levels in men may cause issues with sperm and hormone production as well as symptoms including decreased sex drive and mood swings.
The most common effect of high levels of luteinizing hormone is ovulation. This hormone may be present in small amounts in a woman's body throughout her menstrual cycle. Somewhere around the midpoint of her cycle, however, a woman typically experiences a surge of luteinizing hormone that stimulates her ovaries to release an egg. The levels do not remain high for the rest of the cycle, however. Instead, they drop off significantly after this surge.
The effects of elevated luteinizing hormone levels may be more troublesome when they do not occur around the time of expected ovulation. When levels are elevated during other times in a woman's cycle, the results may be irregular periods and interference with ovulation and conception. Interestingly, low levels can also interfere with normal menstruation and a woman's chances of conceiving a child.
Sometimes elevated luteinizing hormone levels are associated with disorders that affect the ovaries. For instance, a woman with an elevated level of this hormone could have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. This condition is typically marked by multiple cysts on the ovaries, irregular menstruation, and trouble conceiving. Unexplained weight gain, abnormal facial and body hair growth, and acne may accompany this issue as well. Additionally, some women even develop balding as a result.
It is important to note that in the case of polycystic ovarian syndrome, elevated luteinizing hormone does not cause the condition. Instead, the elevated level of this hormone is a symptom of the problem. Essentially, this means that a person's hormone level is higher than normal because she has the disorder — she does not have the disorder because of the hormone. The causes of this ovarian disorder are not well known, but doctors theorize that it may develop in relation to too much insulin, high levels of male hormones, inflammation that leads to insulin resistance, and genetics.
Though people most often speak of this hormone in terms of women, men have it as well. When it is present in overly high amounts in males, it can cause a range of problems. For example, it can contribute to testicular failure, which is marked by problems with the production of hormones and sperm. Abnormal levels can also contribute to mood swings, fatigue, and changes in sex drive. Low sperm count and late puberty are also among the effects of abnormal levels.