Hormones and Infertility

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Infertility topics by Brian Acacio, M.D.. 
Acacio Fertility Center, southern California.


While ovulation and egg viability are important facets to infertility, hormones can also play a crucial role in a woman's ability to conceive and carry her pregnancy to term.

Hormones Defined

Hormones act as messengers that transports chemicals from one cell to another. These “messengers” not only transport but also regulate the concentration amounts of the chemicals throughout the body and in specific organs. Hormones help produce change—such as growth and development—as well as maintain equilibrium (such as blood pressure).

Significance of Hormones in Reproduction

A woman's reproductive system relies on specific hormones:

  • gonadotropin-releasing hormone
  • luteinizing hormone
  • follicle stimulating hormone
  • estrogen
  • progesterone

The role of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is to regulate the amount of reproductive hormones produced in the body—specifically luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. Luteinizing hormone (LH) in turn, stimulates the production of two other hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and the release of the mature egg. Prior to ovulation, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) helps the follicle sac grow and prepares the egg inside for its ovulation journey through the fallopian tubes. Estrogen and progesterone, both stimulated by LH, work in tandem to prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg.

Implications of Hormone Infertility

Hormone imbalance is a common cause for infertility. Both the imbalance and the irregular release of these hormones can likely affect the probability of pregnancy. Hormone imbalance can be detected relatively quickly and easily through blood work and urine samples. While hormone infertility isn't typically resolved through surgery, overcoming hormone infertility can generally be accomplished through medication. This type of infertility may take longer to correct but the outcome is generally good for most couples affected with this condition.

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