Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Hormone Imbalances and Infertility


Fertility Treatments for Hormonal Imbalances
Often, women experiencing fertility problems are asked to track their temperature each day to determine if and when ovulation takes place.
Often, women experiencing fertility problems are asked to track their temperature each day to determine if and when ovulation takes place.
ŠiStockphoto.com/Thinstock

For women trying to get pregnant, a hormone imbalance is not necessarily an insurmountable barrier, but one that more likely than not will need to be managed by a reproductive specialist.

To make an accurate diagnosis of the cause behind your infertility, your health care provider will likely do a series of diagnostic tests. When a hormonal imbalance is suspected, expect tests to check your thyroid function, estradiol (estrogen) levels, progesterone levels, prolactin levels, and tests to determine your ovarian reserve, as well as a urine sample to test the level of LH. You may also be asked to track your basal body temperature on a daily basis to pinpoint when (or if) ovulation occurs -- a woman's body temperature rises slightly when she ovulates.

Women who do not wish to become pregnant may find oral contraceptives relieve the symptoms associated with hormone imbalances.

Women with ovulation problems who do wish to become pregnant are most often prescribed fertility-enhancing drugs, including clompiphene citrate (Clomid) or gonadotropins (such as Follistim) to stimulate the pituitary gland and induce ovulation. Women with high levels of prolactin may find bromocriptine (Parlodel) restores their ovulation.

Women with PCOS who may also have insulin resistance may find that insulin-sensitizing medications such as glucophage (metformin) help not only to improve insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, but also helps to lower androgen levels and restore ovulation. In addition to prescription drugs, women may find their hormones are better balanced when they maintain a healthy weight -- women who are overweight or obese may re-establish healthy menstrual cycles by losing as little as 10 pounds (4.3 kilograms) [source: WebMD].

While some women may have luck restoring their fertility with hormone-stimulating drugs, other women may need to try reproductive therapies in addition to hormone treatments. Assisted reproductive techniques (ART) include treatments such as in vitro fertilization (with or without an egg donor) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), all of which have different success rates based on a woman's age and her fertility complications.


More to Explore