For both men and women, issues with fertility can often be traced back to an imbalance of hormones. This can cause anything from ovulation disorders to low production of sperm and testosterone. Below are some fertility challenges that can arise from hormonal issues.
About 25% of women experiencing fertility challenges have problems with ovulation. Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the ovaries. Ovulation that occurs at the right time in a woman’s menstrual cycle allows for fertilization, implantation, and pregnancy to occur. A woman who has regular periods every 25 to 35 days is probably also ovulating monthly. It is possible to have uterine bleeding unrelated to monthly ovulation and menstruation, and there are also reasons that a woman may ovulate less frequently or not at all.
Assessing whether an ovulation disorder is the cause of your infertility or an effect of some other underlying issue can help us create a treatment plan that will most accurately and efficiently assist in your fertility treatments.
POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects 4-18% of women of reproductive age. Though a relatively common condition, more research into the cause and treatment of PCOS is needed. Based on current research, the main cause of PCOS seems to be related to elevated androgens – male hormones including testosterone – which are made in the ovaries and the adrenal glands (as well as in the testes in men).
Polycystic ovary syndrome can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Menstrual cycle irregularities, including heavy or prolonged bleeding, infrequent periods or no periods at all
- Increase in weight
- Insulin resistance
- Skin irregularities including severe acne
- Multiple follicles in ovaries
- Hirsutism – excessive growth of body hair, including on the face
- Hair loss
PCOS is usually diagnosed by performing an ultrasound and identifying the inflamed and multiple follicles on the ovaries. Treatment for PCOS usually involves lifestyle changes –specifically weight loss – as well as medical treatment, often in the form of hormonal birth control pills. Some women are able to make those changes without much medical intervention, but depending on the severity of the PCOS and the age of the woman, a more aggressive treatment plan may be needed.