Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones are the messengers that give instructions to each body system about what to do. Hormones work in synergy with each other in a delicate balance to ensure that each system as it should. If there is even a slight imbalance in the levels of these hormones, it can disrupt the body’s mechanism’s and cause problems.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) – This hormone tells the brain to produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). If this doesn’t happen or it doesn’t do this effectively, the woman will either not ovulate, she will have irregular ovulation or her eggs will not be mature enough for fertilisation.

Lack of FSH can also affect the lining of the uterus which may not be optimal so that even if a fertilisation were to occur, the endometrium may not be of sufficient quality to allow for implantation.

Luteinising Hormone (LH) – The LH hormone increases dramatically around 24 hours before ovulation. This surge is a signal to the ovaries to release an egg. If this surge doesn’t happen, the woman will not ovulate.

Oestrogen – Oestrogen has multiple tasks. Among them, it helps signal the production of LH and the levels needed. If there is an imbalance involving oestrogen, this could impact LH and ovulation too.

Progesterone – This hormone maintains pregnancy, hence its name meaning pro gestation. It is released by the corpus luteum in the ovary – a cyst that forms after ovulation – to make the uterus hospitable to a fertilised egg and to prevent the occurrence of the menstrual bleed. Low levels of this hormone can lead to short menstrual cycles that don’t allow enough time for implantation (luteal phase defect), breakthrough bleeding in pregnancy and miscarriages.

Hormone imbalances can also lead to many other health problems and may increase a person’s risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, depression and excessive weight gain.

One of the most common causes of female hormone imbalance is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which women grow lots of tiny cysts on their ovaries. These cysts, while benign in their own right, can disrupt the delicate balance and cause hormonal problems.

Women with PCOS produce more androgens (male sex hormones) than normal and may develop facial hair, hair on the belly or chest or thinning hair on the head. Many have irregular periods or no periods at all (but some may have heavy periods). This can make getting pregnant challenging. Blood sugar levels can increase, putting them at risk of diabetes.

PCOS can be helped with hormonal treatments such as the contraceptive pill to regulate the cycle or ovarian drilling to improve ovulation. This can be performed in conjunction with other fertility treatments to assist women with PCOS in starting their family.

Women can also help themselves by eating healthy foods and trying to keep their weight and BMI to a recommended level, taking moderate regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day and quitting smoking if she smokes.

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