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Hormonal imbalances are quite common in women and men. There is a variety of hormonal abnormalities that can lead to infertility. Examples are hyper and/or hypothyroidism (high/or low thyroid function), hyperprolactinemia (high levels of the milk-producing hormone prolactin), hypertestosteronemia (high male hormone levels), and luteal phase defect (low progesterone levels in the second half of the cycle).

The hormones playing a role in ovulation and fertilisation include progesterone, estrogen, androgen, a thyroid hormone, prolactin and other pituitary hormones (luteinizing hormone LH and follicle stimulating hormone FSH). For a couple, who is trying to conceive, hormonal imbalances can make it difficult to become pregnant. Fortunately, most hormonal imbalances can be reversed through lifestyle changes, treatments, and medication.

Important Hormones in Women: The Basics

Estrogen Imbalance

Estrogen is produced primarily by the growing follicles in the ovaries. Estrogen is essential for the healthy bone formation, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and formation of secondary sexual characteristics (pubic hair, breast). Having the optimal balance of estrogen in the body is important to be able to maintain optimal fertility. If the estrogen level in a woman is weak, then ovulation will not occur, and the ovary will not produce any follicles. A lack of estrogen in the blood will also keep the uterine lining from thickening so that a woman will experience irregular, or no bleeding and the lining will not be able to support a pregnancy.

Progesterone Imbalance

Progesterone plays a significant role in the reproductive system. In the case of progesterone deficiency, women can have trouble with premenstrual spotting and also with conceiving. Progesterone has many different functions in the body during ovulation, conception, and pregnancy. One of the main action of progesterone (produced by the placenta during pregnancy) is to help support a developing embryo.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Imbalance

Luteinizing hormones is one of the hormones that is produced by the pituitary gland. It is responsible for regulating the periods and ovulation. LH is excreted by the pituitary gland when there are high estrogen levels produced by a well-grown follicle. It also stimulates some specific cells in the ovaries to produce testosterone. High levels of LH are found in women who ovulate, but also in women suffering PCOS or menopause.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

This hormone is also produced and released by the pituitary gland. It helps regulate the body′s development, growth, and maturation as well as reproductive processes. FSH signals some of the follicles in the ovary to grow and mature in preparation for ovulation.FSH works alongside with LH.

Prolactin Imbalance

Prolactin is the hormone that controls the production of breast milk. Some conditions like stress, manipulation at the breast nipple, the intake of some medications and in seldom cases a benign tumor called Prolactinoma could lead to elevated. Depending on the level, the normal cycle can be suppressed up to different degrees.

Important Hormones in Men: The Basics

Testosterone

Is a hormone produced and secreted primarily by the testicles? It is important in the development of the testis, prostate and secondary sexual characteristics of a man. It also plays an significant role in libido, sexual arousal, erection and is the important hormone in the male.

Estrogen

Is responsible for many functions related to the health of the body, in both men and women. Without optimal levels in men, the sexual function will be decreased. But too much estrogen may cause erectile dysfunction, low or lack of libido, low sperm count and lowered production of seminal fluid.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

This hormone is responsible for the production of testosterone and plays a role in the sperm production.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

FSH plays a significant role in initiating spermatogenesis. This is the very beginning of the sperm production.

How does hormonal imbalance occur?

Hormonal imbalance can have a lot of different reasons. But some of them are closely linked to lifestyle, e.g. people with high-stress levels, a sedentary way of life, sleep disturbance, consumption of too much sugar and fat which will lead to weight gain and obesity, alcoholic drinks, smoking as well as taking many medications. All this may affect the hormonal balance in the body.

Research shows that stress increases the level of stress hormones like cortisol that inhibits the body′s primary sex hormone GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing-hormone) and then suppresses ovulation, sperm count, and sexual activity. Severe stress may cause lack of libido as well as a decrease in general fertility.

Furthermore, there are also genetic links to obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease, which may be a cause of hormonal imbalances.

Also, women who do not have the right amount of body fat (too low or too high) may have period irregularities, anovulation and infertility problems. Obesity in men lowers testosterone levels that affect testis function causing all produced hormones to be out of balance. Obese men also often have sexual dysfunction.

Hormonal imbalance treatment

Depending on the cause of hormonal imbalance, there are different options to offer an infertile couple.

Maintaining a balanced diet will help in keeping the balance in hormones levels. A diet rich in omega 3 and omega six fatty acids that can be found in fish oil, nuts, seeds and vegetables oils creates healthy cell membranes, allowing hormones to reach their destinations within the body. Avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol intake may also help in regulating hormones.

A routine of physical exercise has been known to release chemicals that improve mood, which can help balance out mood swings caused by a lack or excess of female reproductive hormones. In men, it is also capable of increasing testosterone production.

Also, there are over the counter and prescribe medications or supplements that could help but you should always consult first a doctor before taking any medications.

For further information about hormonal imbalance, please book an appointment with us.

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