Our bodies may suffer from hormonal imbalances, or more serious conditions like PCOS and endometriosis. So, how do these hormonal conditions influence your chances of fertility? Keep reading to find out!
What are Hormonal Conditions?
Hormonal conditions are caused when there is an imbalance of hormones in our bodies, either too much or not enough hormone. Hormones are involved in almost every bodily function, therefore if there is a change in the action or production of hormones, there can be a variety of side effects on our bodies, including effects on fertility. There are a large number of different hormonal conditions, each of which will have different symptoms throughout the body.
What Hormones Can Affect Fertility?
There are specific hormones that all have a role in fertility. From regulating the menstrual cycle, maintaining the lining of the uterus or protecting eggs in the ovaries, these hormones all have some impact on fertility. Therefore, if the action of these hormones is affected, there is likely to be subsequent effects on fertility due to the disrupted processes in the body that are controlled by these hormones. The main hormones that are involved in fertility are:
Progesterone: Progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus in order to sufficiently support an embryo, therefore this hormone is important for maintaining a pregnancy once it has been conceived.
Estrogen: Estrogen is an important sex hormone in your body and it has a central role in regulating the menstrual cycle.
Testosterone: Recent research has revealed an important role of testosterone in female reproduction, which is promoting the development of the structures that hold eggs in place and release them from the ovaries, called follicles.
Thyroid hormones: The reproductive organs, thyroid gland and adrenal glands are all connected, therefore changes in the production or activity of thyroid hormones, particularly T3 and T4, can have impacts on fertility.
Prolactin: Prolactin is the main hormone involved in the production of breast milk, but it also regulates the menstrual cycle.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone: Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) maintains the eggs that have not matured yet in the ovaries. Measuring this hormone can indicate how many eggs you have left in your ovaries.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone: The Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) controls the menstrual cycle and promotes the production of eggs in the ovaries.
Luteinizing Hormone: The Luteinizing Hormone (LH) causes the ovaries to release an egg and triggers the production of progesterone.
How Hormonal Conditions Can Influence Your Chances of Fertility
Hormonal conditions can impact your fertility if they impact any of the hormones listed above. If levels of these hormones are upset or changed, there may be subsequent effects on fertility as the hormone is not working as it should be. When hormone levels are imbalanced, this can also have knock-on effects on the rest of your body as many processes are linked.
Hormonal conditions may also impact fertility due to the symptoms of the condition, as well as the changes of hormone levels. For example, endometriosis has the potential to cause infertility due to a changed hormone environment for eggs, scarred fallopian tubes or inflamed pelvis. Therefore, fertility may not be directly affected by the changed hormones, but by the other symptoms of the condition.