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.
- 10 Common Myths About Getting Pregnant
- The Basics of Infertility
- 5 Most Common Causes of Infertility
- Understanding the Conception Process
- Does an irregular menstrual cycle make you less fertile?
- 5 Reasons to Monitor Ovulation
- Can weight loss increase fertility?
- How do high FSH levels affect getting pregnant?
- When is it time to see a fertility specialist?
- Does Metformin make you more fertile?
More Great Links
- Alderson, Thomas L. "Luteal Phase Dysfunction." Medscape Reference. 2011. (June 29, 2012) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/254934-overview
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists. "FAQ: Evaluating Infertility." 2012. (June 29, 2012) http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq136.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120627T1437294249
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists. "FAQ: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome." 2011. (June 29, 2012) http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq121.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120627T1437552423
- American Pregnancy Association. "Premature Ovarian Failure: Premature Menopause." 2005. (June 29, 2012) http://www.americanpregnancy.org/womenshealth/pof.htm
- American Pregnancy Association. "Understanding Ovulation." 2011. (June 29, 2012) http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/understandingovulation.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Infertility FAQ." 2012. (June 29, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/
- InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) FAQ." 2006. (June 29, 2012) http://www.inciid.org/faq.php?cat=infertility101&id=2
- Lucidi, Richard Scott. "Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome." Medscape Reference. 2012. (June 29, 2012) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/256806-overview
- MayoClinic. "Female infertility: Causes." 2011. (June 29, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/female-infertility/ds01053/dsection=causes
- MedcineNet.com. "Infertility." 2009. (June 29, 2012) http://www.medicinenet.com/infertility/article.htm
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. "Ovulation Disorders." (June 29, 2012) http://www.resolve.org/diagnosis-management/infertility-diagnosis/ovulatory-disorders.html
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. "Premature Ovarian Failure." (June 29, 2012) http://www.resolve.org/diagnosis-management/infertility-diagnosis/premature-ovarian-failure-1.html
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. "Reproductive Hormones." (June 29, 2012) http://www.resolve.org/diagnosis-management/infertility-diagnosis/reproductive-hormones.html
- Trokoudes, KM.; Skordis, N.; and MK Picolos. "Infertility and thyroid disorders." Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Vol. 18, no. 4. Pages 446-451. 2006. (June 29, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794427
- Van Houten, E.; Kramer, P.; Karels, B.; McLuskey, A.; Themmen, A.; and J. Visser. "Dihydrotestosterone treatment in mice induces a persistent polycystic ovary syndrome phenotype." Endocrine Abstracts. 2012. (June 29, 2012) http://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0029/ea0029oc6.5.htm
- Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine. "Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome." (June 29, 2012) http://www.seattleivf.com/pcos.html
- WebMD. "Infertility and Men." 2010. (June 29, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/male-fertility-test?page=2