Female Hormones and Conception
By Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc
Hormones play an important role, influencing and controlling several bodily processes, including reproduction. In fact, a large percentage of infertility cases is related to hormonal imbalances. In this article we talk about female hormones that impact fertility, common signs of hormonal imbalance and what actions you can take to improve your fertility.
Female hormones that affect fertility
There are several hormones that play a crucial role in reproduction. Whilst hormonal imbalance affects a lot of women trying to conceive, in most cases, the doctor will be able to help you rebalance your hormone levels.
- Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH): is produced by the ovarian follicles which contact the immature egg. AMH levels is one of the best predictors of the amount of eggs left in the ovaries.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): helps control the menstrual cycle and egg production. When tested on day two or three of the menstrual cycle, it helps assess ovarian reserve. When results are elevated, chances of conception are reduced.
- Estradiol: it is also tested on day two or three of the menstrual cycle and alongside FSH, estradiol helps assess ovarian function. Elevated levels may indicate poor response to fertility medication.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH): it stimulates the ovaries to release an egg and start producing progesterone. It is often tested to help identify the fertile window – the time of the month when the egg is ready to be fertilized. myLotus measures LH in urine to help you time intercourse and improve chances of conception.
- Progesterone: levels of progesterone increase just after ovulation, to prepare the uterus for the fertilized egg. This hormone is essential to thicken the uterine lining and maintain the pregnancy. When progesterone levels are low, there is a risk of miscarriage.
- Prolactin: is the hormone responsible for the production of breast milk. When prolactin levels are high and you are trying to conceive, your cycles may be irregular, resulting in ovulation problems.
- T3 and T4 Thyroid hormones: impact metabolic rate and digestion but also reproduction.
Signs of Hormonal Imbalance
Most hormonal imbalances will result in ovulatory disfunction, where ovulation is irregular or stops altogether; or in short luteal phases, which is the cycle phase immediately after ovulation. Luteal phase should last 14 days but when it’s shorter than 10 days, it may prevent the embryo from implanting.
Some people may not experience signs of hormonal imbalance, but most do have one or more symptoms. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Mood changes
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Facial hair
- Unexplained weight gain
Increasing Chances of Conception
If you have any of the signs and symptoms above, or want to learn more about your cycle, you can start by monitoring your cycle and getting data about how your body works. myLotus can help you understand your LH levels and different phases of your cycle. This is crucial information that you can take to your doctor and will assist in implementing a personalised plan.
Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is a multi-awarded nurse consultant, author and TEDx speaker. Combining her medical experience and her own infertility journey, she developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. Her mission is to improve accessibility to fertility care and support worldwide at minimal cost to populations. She is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme, the evidence-based programme that improved help for fertility, currently in use by several clinics and patients worldwide.