Understanding Fertility Hormones
Creating a family is a remarkable thing. It is one of the most miraculous occurrences in a couple’s life. In order to conceive a child, many things must come to pass, and be in order. One of the most important aspects of achieving pregnancy is the level of hormones in a woman’s body. Hormones dictate if the egg will mature and make the journey to the uterus and if the embryo will find a safe place to gestate within the womb for the next nine months. Hormones have everything to do with fertility, pregnancy, and the issues many of our patients deal with.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals that are secreted into our bloodstream by our endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of glands, and each gland is responsible for different homeostatic functions in the body. When we went through puberty our pituitary gland to signal the growth of bones, tissues and told the body it was time to mature. The thymus, thyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes, as well as the pituitary, pineal, and adrenal glands are responsible for secreting their respective hormones to allow our bodies to function. Some of these glands can malfunction and cause serious issues. From diabetes, to hyperthyroidism and even infertility, hormones can cause a body serious, and emotionally taxing issues.
There are many hormones that work together to create an ideal environment for an embryo to grow. At Viera Fertility Center, we take our patients through as many tests as needed to discover if fertility issues are rooted in hormone function. A complex map of hormones are secreted every month to ready the female body for pregnancy, and there are many factors that can deter and alter these hormones in on their journey.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone
The first hormones released are called follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, or FSH and LH respectively. These gonadotropins are secreted by the pituitary glands and stimulate the ovaries. A burst of LH floods the ovaries and stimulates the maturation of an egg cell. This burst sets of a reaction that releases progesterone and estradiol, to begin to ready the uterus for a possible implantation – but more on that in a bit. Once ovulation begins with this rush of LH, FSH begins to work and encourages the ovaries to mature an egg cell. When an egg cell is mature FSH will be shut off and LH will ramp up production and cause the matured egg to make its way down the fallopian tube to meet a viable sperm.
High or low body weight, excess stress and severe, rapid weight fluctuation can disrupt these hormones from secretly regularly. It is normally marked by irregular periods and can be tested with a simple blood test.
Progesterone, hCG and hPL
Progesterone is another very important hormone that can determine a woman’s fertility. As soon as LH begins the ovulation process, the production of progesterone begins. Progesterone is first responsible for preparing the womb for pregnancy. It does this by thickening the endometrial lining to give a fertilized oocyte a safe place to implant and eventually develop into a fetus. If a viable sperm meets the matured egg and is implants onto the readied uterine lining, hCG is produced and you’ve got a pregnancy on your hands. hCG is present only during pregnancy and provides a fresh embryo with the nourishment it needs to develop further. At 11 weeks of pregnancy this hormone drops off and hPL takes over, providing the nourishment a fetus needs to develop into a baby. Progesterone continues to play a vital role by prohibiting contractions that would reject the embryo. Too much, or not enough progesterone can cause many problems for a woman seeking pregnancy. Levels must be optimal if implantation is to happen.
Hormones are extremely important for fertility. If you are experiencing issues with your fertility, the first thing we check are your hormone levels. This enables us to help out however we can if that’s’ stimulating your follicles with LH or FSH, or upping progesterone to create an optimal environment. To learn more about hormones, give the Viera Fertility Center a call today.