As per fertility doctors, anovulation, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and hyperprolactinemia are some of the most commonly diagnosed hormonal imbalances in women. These conditions often cause infrequent or lack of ovulation, in turn, making conception difficult.
While there are several hormones coursing through the human body, only a few impact fertility and contribute to the above conditions. These include FSH, LH, AMH, Progesterone, Prolactin, as well as T3 and T4. Dr. Laura Melado, IVF Specialist at ART Fertility Clinics shares below the specific ways these hormones affect reproductive health.
FSH: Follicle Stimulating Hormone plays a major role in maintaining fertility. It is responsible for the production of healthy eggs as well as maintaining the regularity of the menstrual cycle.
LH: Luteinizing Hormone performs many functions that directly impact the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. It causes the release of the matured egg from the ovary (ovulation) as well as the secretion of progesterone from the corpus luteum. The best part of LH is that one doesn’t need to visit a gynecologist or another fertility doctor to get its levels checked. A simple Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK) can measure it at home.
Progesterone: It is the key hormone responsible for preparing the female body for pregnancy as well as maintaining it. Most of the time when patients visit IVF hospitals with the issue of recurrent miscarriages, low progesterone levels are diagnosed as the problem.
AMH: Anti-Mullerian Hormone maintains the follicles and immature eggs in the ovary. The ovarian reserve test, usually performed before IVF treatments to determine the number of eggs left in the ovary, actually measures the AMF.
Prolactin: Although prolactin’s main function is to maintain milk production post-delivery, it also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, which is crucial for maintaining reproductive health.
T3 and T4: Apart from regulating the regular physiological functions of the body, these thyroid hormones also influence a woman’s ability to conceive. It’s because the thyroid glands, adrenal glands, and the female reproductive organs are all intricately linked. So, when there is an issue with either the adrenals or the thyroid hormones, achieving pregnancy becomes tough.
The good news is that most of these hormonal imbalances are treatable. Their treatments include medications to restore thyroid function and hormone levels, regulate menstrual cycles as well as induce ovulation. Moreover, lifestyle modifications, including changes in diet, weight loss, reduced smoking and alcohol consumption, etc., can also normalize hormone levels and boost the chances of conception.
“However, in some cases, couples are not able to conceive in spite of hormone treatments. In such scenarios, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is the answer. With processes like Ovulation Induction (OI) and IVF, fertility treatments can help patients who are not able to ovulate on their own and increase their chances of pregnancy”, explains Dr. Melado.