Hormones – is your fertility hanging in the balance (or imbalance)?
From the moment of conception, hormones play a key role in the development of both men and women, including growth, mood, physical and mental development, and the function of our reproductive systems. In fact, according to medical statistics, nearly one-third of all infertility issues are hormone related for both men and women.
We will run testing to ensure that your body is producing the correct hormones in the correct levels at the correct times. For women, the following hormones play a role in both egg development and release:
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is necessary for the development of the egg.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) is necessary for egg development and for the release of the egg from the ovary.
- Estradiol is produced by ovarian follicles and signals the uterine lining to prepare for a fertilized egg. Estradiol stimulates production of cervical mucous, which provides a conduit for sperm to enter the uterus through the cervix and thereby navigate up the reproductive tract to meet with and fertilize the egg.
- Androgens are the male hormones that are normally produced in small amounts in a woman’s body. Androgen overproduction in a woman may cause problems with ovulation, egg development, and embryo implantation.
- Progesterone is the hormone that makes the uterine lining receptive to an embryo and able to sustain the baby during pregnancy.
- Prolactin is necessary for milk production following delivery, but an overabundance of the prolactin hormone can interfere in achieving pregnancy.
- Thyroid hormones if not sufficient can cause high levels of prolactin and reduce the chance for pregnancy to occur and increase the rate of miscarriage.
When any of these hormones gets out of balance, they can interfere with your ability to conceive. Fortunately, if we determine a hormonal imbalance, we can prescribe a treatment that frequently reverses the hormonal abnormality, restoring fertility.
For men, we may check the following hormone levels:
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) is necessary for the testes to produce testosterone
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) works with testosterone to help the testes produce sperm
- Testosterone stimulates sex drive and works with FSH to stimulate sperm production
- Prolactin if overproduced can be a factor in male infertility, contributing to impotence, decreased sex drive, decreased testosterone production, and/or a lower sperm count
- Inhibin is produced by a sperm-forming complex of the testicle. A diminished inhibin correlates with insufficient sperm forming complexes in the testes
Appropriate levels of hormones are necessary to conception and are equally important in both the male and female reproductive systems. The hormones listed above must be at reasonable levels to allow the conception of a baby, but these hormones are by no means the only ones, which is why, depending on your specific case, additional hormones other than those we have discussed here may need to be evaluated as well.