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Female Hormones and Infertility

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Women’s hormones can affect their ability to get pregnant, and especially show up in ovulation disorders.

Ovulation Disorders:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causing hormonal imbalance and ovulation disorders

Symptoms include:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Abnormal Facial or Body Hair Growth
  • Acne

Excess Prolactin

Symptoms include:

  • Reduction in estrogen

Hypothalmic dysfunction where ovulation is disrupted due to lack of hormonal secretions

Symptoms include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Lack of ovulation
  • Low or high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • Low or high lutenizing hormone (LH)

What Causes Ovulation Disorders?

Ovulation disorders occur in 1 out of 4 couples and usually refer to conditions in which you ovulate infrequently or lack having a menstrual cycle. Often this is found in women who have disruption of the activity of the pituitary gland and the release of hormones in their hypothalamus region of the brain where coordination occurs.

Other causes could be related to ovarian problems. The most common cause of female infertility is an hormonal imbalance called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Additional hormone imbalances can result from excess Prolactin, a hormone produced in the pituitary gland as well as hypothalamic dysfunction. Too much prolactin can interfere with ovulation and cause you to have irregular menstrual cycles.

The Female Hormone Production Cycle in Ovulation

To understand the importance of hormones in a woman’s body and how they relate to pregnancy starts with the hypothalamus system located in the brain. It is responsible for the production and release of what is known as the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which is one of the gonadotropin hormones and is controlled by levels of hormones released by the ovaries. This system is called the hypothalamic-pituatary-gonadal-axis.

The process starts when the gonadtropin-releasing hormones are secreted from the hypothalamus, which are then captured and stored by the pituitary gland which in turn signals to the pituitary gland to process and release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenising hormone (LH). Afterwards FSH flows through the bloodstream to the ovaries in women and the testes in men. In women, this hormone is essential to the function and control of the ovaries to stimulate ovarian follicles prior to release of an egg known as ovulation.

Woman at the doctors touching her belly
Couple walking together at the beach

Can I Get Pregnant with High Prolactin Levels?

Up to a third of women will experience excess prolactin. This condition is known as hyperprolactinemia and can cause irregular menstrual cycles in women with normal ovaries. High levels of prolactin can interfere with your production of estrogen and progesterone that contribute to the normal function of an egg being produced by your ovaries. When this occurs, infertility, lack of release of eggs and trouble getting pregnant can result.

What Causes High Prolactin Levels?

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Depression medication
  • High blood pressure
  • Herbs, including fenugreek, fennel seeds, and red clover
  • Irritation of the chest wall (from surgical scars, shingles, or even a too-tight bra)
  • Stress or exercise (usually excessive or extreme)
  • Certain foods
  • Nipple stimulation
  • No causes detected in a third of cases

If you think you may be experiencing some of these symptoms of infertility and hormone imbalance schedule your appointment at 713-401-9000 for evaluation and treatment.

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