What is a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level? Why would my doctor order this to be drawn?

Great question! A thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is common blood test that is drawn to see how well the thyroid gland is working. TSH is produced in the pituitary gland, which is located in your brain. It works by stimulating the thyroid gland, which can be found in your neck just below your chin. The thyroid gland has an important job: it produces hormones that help control growth and development through metabolism.

There are a lot of different reasons why your doctor may draw a TSH level, but a lot of the time it’s to see how well your thyroid is working. Sometimes the thyroid sluggish and less productive, this is called hypothyroidism (which can cause fatigue, weight gain, poor growth, and cold intolerance among other symptoms). Other times, your thyroid can be working overtime, this is called hyperthyroidism (which can cause weight loss, irregular periods, and feeling warm among other symptoms). These are just a couple reasons why your health care provider (HCP) may want to check your level, but it can be also be a part of a normal annual physical! If you have questions about why your health care provider may or may not be drawing a TSH, simply ask. Remember, you and your HCP know you and your body best!