How Do Gonadotropins Work?

Reviewed on 12/30/2021

How do gonadotropins work?

Gonadotropins are a class of medications used to treat infertility and disorders associated with reproductive functions such as ovulation and the production of sperm (spermatogenesis). Gonadotropin medications function like endogenous gonadotropins which are vital for normal growth, sexual development, and reproduction.

Gonadotropins are peptide hormones that regulate the function of the reproductive organs (gonads), ovaries in females, and testes in males. Human gonadotropins include:

The pituitary gland produces FSH and LH when stimulated by gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which is secreted by the hypothalamus. After the implantation of the fertilized egg, the placenta produces hCG, which works like LH to promote the production of progesterone, for maintenance of pregnancy and fetal growth.

In women, the two hormones FSH and LH regulate menstruation, follicle maturation, ovulation, ovarian production of female hormones estrogen and progesterone, and preparation of the endometrium for implantation. In men, FSH and LH regulate sexual maturation, spermatogenesis, and production of the male hormone testosterone by the testes.

Improper functioning of gonadotropins can upset the fine hormonal balance that is required for reproductive health and can lead to fertility problems in both men and women. Abnormality in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis can cause cryptorchidism in boys, a condition in which the testicle doesn’t descend into its proper place in the scrotum.

Gonadotropin medications work as substitutes for endogenous gonadotropins FSH, LH, and hCG in people who have reproductive problems. Gonadotropins used as medications are lab-manufactured products, using recombinant DNA technology, or purified extracts derived from the urine of pregnant or postmenopausal women.


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How are gonadotropins used?

Gonadotropins may be administered as intramuscular (IM) injections into the muscle, or subcutaneous (SC) injections into the tissue under the skin. All three gonadotropins FSH, LH, and hCG, and the gonadotropin-releasing hormone may be used at the appropriate phases to promote ovulation, implantation, and maintenance of pregnancy.

Gonadotropins are approved by FDA in the treatment of the following:

  • Induction of ovulation and pregnancy in infertile women whose anovulation (absence of ovulation) is not due to primary ovarian failure
  • Induction of ovulation and pregnancy in women with oligo-anovulation (infrequent and irregular ovulation) that is not due to primary ovarian failure
  • Induction of spermatogenesis in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (impaired gonad functioning due to pituitary deficiency) in whom infertility is not due to primary testicular failure
  • Prepubertal cryptorchidism is not caused by anatomical obstruction
  • Development of multiple follicles in women as part of assistive reproductive technologies (ART) such as in-vitro fertilization or embryo transfer 

What are the side effects of gonadotropins?

Side effects of gonadotropins may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with travel medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are the names of gonadotropin drugs?

Generic and brand names of gonadotropin drugs include:


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