Hormonal Imbalance and Infertility
Hormone imbalance & infertility at a glance
- Hormone imbalance occurs when the human body has too much, too little or out-of-sync production of a hormone or hormones that are important for regulating bodily processes.
- The proper balance of hormones is essential for efficient reproductive cycles such as the ovulation process in women and the overall system of conception.
- Hormonal imbalances are the leading cause of infertility in women.
- Disorders, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and anovulation, can be the result of a hormone imbalance in women.
- Men may also experience hormonal disorders that affect their fertility, such as low testosterone levels.
What is hormonal imbalance?
The human body uses 50 hormones to regulate different systems and bodily functions such as growth, metabolism and temperature regulation. There are also a number of hormones that help regulate the development and release of the female reproductive cells, or egg.
Hormonal imbalance is an incorrect quantity of one or more hormones in the bloodstream. The timing of the hormone(s) release, interactions with other hormones and ability to respond through cell receptors are also important for hormonal balance. An irregular balance of the hormones associated with reproductive health in one or both partners can make conception and pregnancy difficult. Hormonal imbalances are the leading cause of infertility in women, but are often treatable with lifestyle changes and medications.
Hormonal imbalance can also cause infertility in men, but is a less common infertility factor in men than it is in women.
How do hormones affect fertility?
Hormones play a pivotal role in female reproduction, particularly those hormones that control the menstrual cycle. In order for a pregnancy to occur, hormones in the body must signal and regulate the growth of an egg within an ovary, the release of the newly formed egg into the fallopian tube and the thickening of the uterine lining for implantation. If the newly released egg is fertilized by sperm (the development of sperm is also regulated by hormones within the male body), the resulting embryo will then travel to the uterus for implantation.
An absence or irregular quantity of one or more hormones can delay or prevent any of the above processes from occurring, making pregnancy difficult to achieve.
Common causes of hormonal imbalance that affect ovulation
These conditions often result in infrequent or absent ovulation, which complicates an individual’s or couple’s ability to become pregnant.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
Often times, hormonal imbalance is not diagnosed until an individual experiences infertility. Women may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Absent or irregular periods.
- Spotting between periods.
- Heavy or painful periods.
- Increased hair growth on the face, neck, chest, and back.
- Unexplained weight gain.
- Constipation and diarrhea.
Men are less likely to have a hormonal imbalance that contributes to infertility than women, but they may still experience symptoms such as:
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Low sperm count.
- Reduced body hair growth.
- Breast tenderness and overdevelopment of breast tissue.
- Thinning hair or male pattern hair loss.
It’s important to discuss any of the above symptoms with a reproductive endocrinologist if infertility is suspected.
Testing for hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalances in men and women can be determined through simple blood or urine analysis. Fertility hormone testing looks at the presence of a variety of hormones central to reproduction to determine whether one or more hormones is depleted or in excess. This can help fertility specialists determine potential causes of infertility and the appropriate treatment options.
Treatment for hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalance is usually treatable and should be treated whether or not the patient is looking to become pregnant. Treatments for hormonal imbalance may include medications to restore normal thyroid function, normalize hormone levels, induce ovulation or trigger a fully mature egg.
Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss or diet changes can also normalize hormone levels and improve the chances of pregnancy.
Contact LLU Center for Fertility today to schedule a fertility consultation.