What exactly do we mean by hormone infertility?
Well, hormones are important for many reasons, and if hormones fall out of balance in our bodies they can be responsible for all kinds of medical problems from irritability, bad skin, tiredness – and infertility.
So what is the real role of our hormones? In the context of fertility, hormones do play a critical role. Hormones act as the body’s very own integrated ‘thermostat’ – they keep the concentrations of the various chemicals in your system in check, to make sure that your different systems operate most effectively.
Timing is really important when it comes to hormones. Women with hormone infertility often fail to produce a fertilizable egg during their menstrual cycle. and will generally experience irregular menstruation.
An irregular period should always be a cause for concern anyway, and any woman experiencing this should seek edical advice as soon as possible.
Hormone infertility is one of the very common reasons that couples fail to conceive. Rather than being curable by a surgical intervention, this cause of infertility may take time and longer-term treatments to overcome, but the outcomes are generally good for most couples.
Common Hormone Issues
Conditions like hyperandrogenism (too many male hormones), hypothyroidism (thyroid gland doesn’t operate effectively), or luteal phase defect (LPD – low progesterone concentrations) are all risk factors leading to potential hormone infertility.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) – this hormone is made by the hypothalamus in the brain, (in both men and women) and its purpose is to tell the pituitary gland to make Luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).
LH stimulates the production of further hormones, estrogen and progesterone, by the ovaries. It instructs the ovary to release a mature egg, and instructs the remaining cells to form a bunch of yellow cells called a Corpus Luteum, which makes progesterone.
FSH prepares the eggs to begin their journey. It also tells the ovaries to make additional estrogen, which will then result in extra LH. These two work together to regulate sperm production and testosterone in the male.
Estrogen is a hormone that works in partnership with Progesterone to prepare the uterine lining to receive a fertilized egg, for impregnation. Estrogen also makes the cervical mucus clearer and more watery just prior to ovulation, so the sperm can travel more easily.
Another hormone – Prolactin – tells the female body to make milk, and not eggs. This is useful when you actually have a child who is breastfeeding, but not so handy if you want to have a baby! This can be caused by a number of conditions like hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland doesn’t work effectively.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) – where the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male hormones, such as testosterone, and your LH levels stay high, while FSH levels stay low. The hormones are prompting your ovaries to release the egg, despite the fact that it isn’t mature yet. Evidently, this not good. PCOS might be a result of the body making extra insulin (another hormone) – which in turn impacts how the ovaries operate. I talk more about this in my book.
Sorry about all the acronyms and technical stuff, there is obviously a lot more I could explain about hormones, but you can appreciate that if one gland isn’t operating properly, or if there is an excess or a lack of a hormone, infertility can be a result.
To finish on a positive note, it is relatively easy to get a medical check for hormone imbalances. The doctor will take a blood and/or a urine sample to check hormone levels.
And if you are diagnosed with hormone infertility it is not a complete disaster as it can generally be easily treated naturally in the first instance.