Hormonal imbalance is the main cause of female infertility. A woman’s inability to ovulate and regulate hormone levels results in over or under production of a particular hormone. This hormonal imbalance manifests itself with symptoms that are easily detected and that allow treatment to be started as soon as possible. These symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, too much or too little bleeding, abdominal and pelvic cramps, missed periods for periods of time, and excessive weight gain or loss.
The following can result in hormonal imbalances:
· Glandular problems such as problems with the thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus glands.
These glands are the primary glands that are responsible for the creation and production of reproductive hormones. They can be affected by the intake of birth control pills, stress and diseases such as hypothyroidism. Once problems are found in any of these glands, an imbalance will prevent the full ovulation process from taking place, hence the difficulty in conception.
· Ovulatory disorder such as overproduction of “prolactin”
Like glandular problems, the overproduction of “prolactin” leads to altered hormone levels. Prolactin is a milk-producing hormone that suppresses and interferes with ovulation. The incomplete ovulation cycle called anovulation causes the overproduction of androgens. These androgens are called “male hormones”, the overproduction of these, particularly testosterone, results in less production of estrogen which marks and signals the ovulation process.
· Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
This condition is characterized by multiple cyst growths in the ovaries, resulting in hormonal imbalance and ebbs of menstruation. A lower production of estrogen and progesterone needed for ovulation results in lower egg quality and failure of egg maturation. These unripe eggs develop into cysts and line the external and internal ovaries.
Furthermore, PCOS attracts high insulin production resulting in a type II diabetes condition and increased androgen production.
· Premature menopause and abnormal cervical mucus
Menopause in women usually begins at age 40, if it comes earlier; it becomes a sure sign of infertility. The ovulation process goes well into your forties, POF or Premature Ovarian Failure accounts for around 1% of female infertility. Aside from the slowing down and cessation of the ovulation process, menopause causes a variety of bodily changes in women. Menopause is often manifested by extreme mood swings, sleepiness, irregular menstruation, and hot flashes.
Abnormal cervical mucus is a condition where the mucus that lines the cervix and uterus is not what it should be; The change in mucus consistency during the ovulation process is primarily designed to aid in the sperm’s journey and the fertilization of the egg. The alteration in the consistency of the mucus, with which the normal one is thin and watery, becomes an obstruction for the sperm to reach the egg to ensure conception. With low estrogen production, the mucus thickens for sperm to pass through or swim through. Specific reproductive glands are responsible for secreting adequate mucus to line the cervix, and repeated infections and the presence of sexually transmitted diseases are common culprits for abnormal cervical mucus production.
The above are ailments related to the endocrine and reproductive system that cause a significant alteration in normal hormonal levels and the ovulation process. The presence of these irregularities represents about 25% of cases of female infertility. Around 80% of these cases are caused by inherent biological irregularities and 20% of these hormonal imbalance cases are due to psychological and emotional stress. As defined, stress is any event in the course of our existence that poses a direct threat and pressure to our well-being. With stress often come changes in sleep pattern, diet, and mood swings. Women who experience extreme psychological and emotional stress tend to sink into depression, which in turn triggers a fluctuation in hormone levels.
Hormonal infertility is almost a familiar phrase in fertility clinics. Learn more about the symptoms and early signs of hormonal irregularity to detect infertility as early as possible. Once the irregularity is corrected and hormones are regulated, couples will most likely be able to conceive. Talk to your fertility specialist and approach hormonal infertility with the utmost optimism.