What is hormone imbalance?
Ovulation and subsequent implantation of a fertilized egg depends on a complex balance of hormones and their interactions with each other. Any disruption in this process can cause some degree of infertility.
There are several hormones involved in fertility.
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates the production of eggs.
- Leutinizing hormone (LH) stimulates the ovaries to release an egg and produce progesterone.
- Progesterone transforms the uterine environment by thickening the endometrium tissue that lines the uterine wall in order to receive a fertilized egg.
- Estradiol is a form of estrogen that plays a role in overall ovarian function and the quality of a woman’s eggs.
Causes of hormonal imbalance infertility
Failure to produce mature eggs
Low levels of FSH cause partial development of ovarian follicles which prevents the ovaries from producing mature eggs and nearly eliminates the possibility of pregnancy. Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common disorder responsible for this problem.
Malfunction of the hypothalamus
The hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland to stimulate the ovaries with FSH and LH to initiate egg maturation. If the hypothalamus does not trigger this process, the eggs will not mature and cause infertility.
Malfunction of the pituitary gland
The pituitary gland produces and secretes FSH and LH. The ovaries cannot ovulate properly if too much or too little of these hormones is produced. The pituitary gland may not function properly due to physical injury, a tumor or a chemical imbalance in the pituitary gland.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
Anovulation is a common symptom of hormonal imbalance. Anovulation does not cause pain or other external signs but does affect a woman's ability to get pregnant.
Treatment for hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalance is diagnosed through blood tests at specific times during the menstrual cycle. All four of the hormones listed above are measured and once the levels are established, a reproductive specialist can treat women with clomiphene, femara and other hormonal therapies.
Once hormonal balance is restored, fertilization may occur naturally. If that is not successful, other fertility treatments such as injections of gonadotropin hormones, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or modified natural cycle IVF/M may be necessary.