The following are some of the common causes infertility, and it is by no means an exhaustive list.
Declining ovarian function affects the total number of available follicles in the body, and that is what reduce the odds of conception. Although estrogen continues to be produced in the body the ovulation does not occur, which also leads to a decline of progesterone levels.
Luteal Phase Deficiency
In some women, ovulation may occur normally but the levels of progesterone during the luteal phase are insufficient. Even if the egg is fertilized, this progesterone deficiency may disrupt implantation, or not sustain the pregnancy. Some of the causes of luteal phase deficiency include endometriosis, abnormal follicle development, or most commonly is a result of inadequate progesterone production.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is the most common hormone disorder affecting women of reproductive age and is closely associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Large numbers of women with PCOS experience cycles without the ovulation (or, anovulation), and many experience unexplained infertility.
Endometriosis is found in more than 50 percent of women with unexplained infertility, and the high cortisol (stress hormone) and prolactin levels induced by stress have been suggested to play an important role in the development of this condition.
Because your thyroid hormones are affected by other hormones in the body, its dysfunction, or imbalance, even with the labs that yield normal values, may be another cause of infertility. A thyroid hormone treatment and/or support may in fact be in part a solution to restore a regular menstrual pattern.
Stress, or more specifically the stress hormone (cortisol) can have a profound effect on the ability to conceive, largely because of its impact on the overall hormone balance in the body. Cortisol imbalances, which can be evaluated with a simple test, have the capacity to:
- exacerbate both estrogen and progesterone levels, and further contribute to luteal phase defect
- affect blood sugar regulation, which is critical in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- aggravate conditions that contribute to infertility, including hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and endometriosis
- increase prolactin levels and inhibit ovulation
- reduce cervical mucous
This is considered to be a diagnosis of exclusion, or when all tests come back as normal. We believe that this is a “waste-basket” diagnosis, yet it does identify the fact that the body is out of balance. Although hormone testing and/or imaging may be normal, it is essential to consider how other seemingly unrelated body systems contribute to infertility. We often recommend some of our fertility testing options, which can offer additional insight including ovulation patterns, estrogen or progesterone dysregulation during menstrual cycles, food allergies and sensitivities, and other.