Hormonal imbalances, such as PCOS, are among the leading causes of infertility in women, as they can interfere with ovulation. The problem is, hormone levels are not regularly monitored by primary care doctors since we typically assume things (including hormones) are all working as they should.
While it’s normal to have hormone fluctuations throughout your menstrual cycle—these natural fluctuations actually allow your body to reproduce—a complete hormone imbalance can prevent pregnancy. Fortunately, at Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, there are several treatments we can do to help correct hormone imbalances and help you achieve a successful pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know.
Signs of Hormone Imbalance
Hormone imbalance can manifest in many different ways. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be due to a hormone imbalance:
- Blurred vision
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in blood pressure
- Changes in heart rate
- Changes in temperature/climate sensitivity
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Dry skin, skin rashes
- Excessive sweating
- Frequent urination
- Inability to achieve a pregnancy
- Increased thirst
- Long-term fatigue
- Newly developed anxiety or depression
- Reduced sex drive
- Thinning or brittle hair
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
When you visit AZCREI for the first time, we include hormonal testing as part of our consultation to determine the cause of your infertility. It’s important to have the correct diagnosis to provide effective treatment. When we’re looking at issues within the endocrine system, we are likely to be specifically testing these hormones:
- Thyroid hormones (TSH and free T4)—The thyroid emits TSH and free T4 hormones, which help to regulate your metabolism, amongst other things. An imbalance in the thyroid can directly impact the production of other hormones and cause irregular menstrual cycles. Thyroid imbalances are relatively uncommon (hyperthyroidism only affects about 1 percent of women), and are easily treated with medication.
- Prolactin—The prolactin hormone becomes elevated in pregnancy (it helps women produce breast milk), and can also be increased with certain medications. High prolactin levels in women may disrupt ovulation; for men, high levels of prolactin can cause erectile dysfunction and decrease sex drive.
- Androgens—Elevated androgen levels, or hyperandrogenism, are often seen in patients with PCOS, and can cause irregular menstrual cycles.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH)—LH helps regulates the production of estrogen and progesterone, which stimulates ovulation in women. The level of LH can vary daily, but should fall within a certain range based on age.
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)—FSH also helps regulate the production of progesterone and estrogen, but FSH is responsible for the stimulation of ovarian follicles. Elevated FSH levels are commonly seen in patients in menopause, who experience primary ovarian insufficiency, or who have been diagnosed with PCOS.
- Estradiol—Estradiol is a form of estrogen. Low estrogen can prevent ovulation and cause irregular menstruation, while high levels can hinder embryo implantation. Although estrogen levels can fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, if there are other health concerns present (such as irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal bleeding, infertility, vaginal dryness, increased PMS symptoms, etc.), estradiol draws can be performed in combination with FSH testing.
Causes of Hormone Imbalance
If we find that a hormone imbalance may be causing your infertility, we’ll then get to the root of the cause so we can remedy the issue. Depending on what we discover during testing, there may be natural solutions to bring your hormone levels back to normal. Some of the most common causes of hormone imbalance in both men and women include:
- Addison’s disease
- Benign tumors or cysts
- Birth control
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Chronic or extreme stress
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Exposure to toxins, pollutants, or other harmful chemicals
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Steroid medication and abuse
Regardless of the reason behind a hormone imbalance, it’s our mission to help you uncover and overcome your infertility. Our team at AZCREI is here to help you achieve a successful pregnancy. Whether you think a hormone imbalance is behind your infertility or are completely unsure of the cause, we’d like to help you find out more. To schedule a consultation at AZCREI, call us at (520) 326-0001 or contact us online.