Hormones & Infertility

Learn how hormones affect fertility in this Howcast video about infertility.


Physicians who are specially trained to care of infertile couples are called reproductive endocrinologists. Reproductive endocrinologists deal with many aspects of infertility, including problems in sperm, Fallopian tubes, the uterus, ovulation, and other issues. The basis of much of reproductive endocrinology is, in fact, endocrinology--which is the study of hormones and their effects within the human body.

The hormones that reproductive endocrinologists center on are hormones called gonadotropins, which are the hormones that the brain releases to stimulate the ovaries. And these include hormones called follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, and luteinizing hormone, LH. FSH stimulates follicle development in the ovaries, and LH induces a final maturation of the eggs and the physical release of the eggs from the ovaries known as ovulation.

Other hormones that we center on include estrogen--which is produced by the ovaries--and progesterone, also produced by the ovaries after the time of ovulation. For many women who have fertility problems, they have problems where they make too much androgen, or testosterone. And this hormone can be associated with physical symptoms like excess hair on the face and on the neck and on the chest and the lower abdomen; increasing acne; scalp hair loss; obesity; and poor ovulation rates. Many of these women have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, where the brain does not stimulate the ovaries properly. And all of these symptoms that I just mentioned can occur in addition to infertility.

So, a reproductive endocrinologist must manage the various reproductive hormones that occur in the body of females, and determine how to best use those hormones to stimulate their ovaries to release good eggs.

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