Understanding How Hormonal Balance Impacts Fertility

Out of balance hormones disrupt your day-to-day life in many ways. Females may notice symptoms such as heavy or irregular periods, hair loss and vaginal dryness. Some of the conditions directly related to hormones experienced by both males and females are

  • Acne: While usually caused by clogged pores acne also responds to hormone fluctuations. Hormones stimulate the oil glands in your skin and that boost oil production results in acne. Adult acne occurs after puberty and is a direct response to hormonal changes.


  • Diabetes: Yes, diabetes is the most common endocrine-related condition in the US. Diabetes results when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, which is a hormone.


  • Thyroid Disease: Thyroid disease has many causes but both hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) and hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels) directly relate to hormonal balances.


  • Obesity: Hormones signal your body when you need energy (food/calories) and how you burn that energy through your metabolism. An imbalance of certain hormones signals your body to store fat and you gain weight. Excesses of the hormone cortisol as well as low thyroid hormones cause weight gain and slow the metabolism.


  • Insomnia: Hormonal balance directly impacts your sleep. Melatonin, cortisol, progesterone and estrogen all affect sleep patterns.

Hormone Balance and Fertility

The reproductive system is another hormone-dependent system in both males and females. In order for a female to conceive their hormonal balance is key. The menstrual cycle depends on hormones for maturing an egg in the ovaries and releasing that egg to the fallopian tubes, so it meets sperm. At the same time hormones thicken the uterine lining, so a fertilized egg implants. Any irregularities in the hormonal balance can delay or prevent the cycle, which in turn makes pregnancy difficult at best.

In males, a hormone imbalance impacts sperm production and results in low sperm count, poor movement and misshapen sperm. The three primary hormones affecting male fertility are:

  • Testosterone: In low levels, this male sex hormone may result in low sex drive, ED and low sperm count. Higher levels of testosterone also cause low sperm count and even no sperm at all.
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone: FSH is essential to the healthy development of sperm cells. In low levels sperm may not mature and those that do mature are low in number and of poor quality.
  • Luteinizing Hormone: LH triggers testosterone production which impacts libido (sex drive) and sperm production. Both low levels and high levels have a negative effect on sperm production.


Female Fertility and Hormonal Balance

While all of your hormones work together to maintain balance two reproductive hormones do most of the work for your fertility. They are FSH and LH, the same ones that assist the male reproductive system in sperm production. The pituitary gland secretes these hormones into your system, and they are part of a hormone group called gonadotropins.

FSH begins your cycle by signaling the ovaries to mature an egg. Once an egg is mature LH takes over and sends a surge to the ovaries which triggers release of the egg (ovulation). That surge of LH also causes the release of progesterone and estradiol. These hormones prepare the lining of the uterus for embryo implantation.

Once a fertilized egg develops into an embryo and securely plants in the uterine lining the female body produces the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Your body only produces hCG during pregnancy and it is the hormone that triggers a positive pregnancy test.

When you and your partner suspect infertility your evaluation begins with a hormone test. The test measures your hormones for balance. An imbalance indicates several different possible conditions.


Infertility-Related Conditions Caused by Hormonal Imbalance

One of the most common infertility-related condition today is PCOS. According to the Endocrine Society, PCOS affects 7%-10% of females of childbearing age. It’s the most common hormonal disorder for females of reproductive age and yet many don’t know they have it.

Small cysts form within the ovaries preventing ovulation. If the female doesn’t produce enough of the hormones necessary for ovulation small cysts form in the ovaries. These cysts produce male hormones called androgens which further complicate fertility.

PCOS symptoms range in severity but may include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Excessive body hair
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Acne
  • Weight gain


Another condition related to hormone balance is anovulation. In this case, the ovaries simply don’t release eggs. The main symptom of anovulation is irregular or absent periods.

A third condition related to hormonal balance is hyperprolactinemia. In this case the female body produces an overabundance of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone that triggers milk production in females. Prolactin production pauses estrogen production which affects the levels of testosterone and inhibits ovulation. This domino effect may indicate issues with your pituitary gland. Certain medications may trigger an overproduction of prolactin as well.

If you suspect PCOS, anovulation or hyperprolactinemia please consult your doctor.


Treating Hormone Imbalance

Hormone balance is sometimes tricky. The symptoms aren’t always apparent, so you may not worry until you suspect infertility. If you or your partner suspects a hormone imbalance at the root of your inability to conceive please contact LA IVF today. There are many ways to address your hormonal imbalance and treat your infertility. We look forward to helping you on your journey.