There are multiple factors that influence physiology and culminate in ovulation and conception. Not only internal factors, like healthy blood and vitality, but also external factors like the seasons and the amount of light in our bedrooms at night. Reproduction is truly an amazing and complicated process. All contributors being equal though- what ultimately decides whether a woman will produce an egg and conceive is … drum roll please… our hormones.
Hormones and Fertility
Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body. They literally communicate information to cells. Without hormones, or when our hormones aren’t working optimally, these messages can be missed, leading to all sorts of “miscommunications”. For example, if the hormone insulin isn’t communicating with cells, diabetes is the result. When thyroid hormones don’t communicate there can be fatigue, dry skin, slowing of the metabolism. When sex hormones aren’t communicating the results can be missed periods, lack of libido, or infertility.
Hormones Really are in Charge
But what affects hormones and their ability to communicate? Well that is a long list, let’s start with just a few:
1. Other hormones –
thyroid, insulin, pituitary hormones, testosterone, adrenal hormones like DHEA and cortisol. When one hormone is out of balance (too high or too low) the other hormones have to make up for that, by filling in the gap or overcompensating. Hormones prefer to coexist in harmony. They help each other to do their best jobs. When one fails, the others compensate temporarily, but eventually those hormones get over used as well and the result is a whole lot of miscommunication and disharmony – hormone imbalance.
2. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies –
vitamins and minerals (like B vitamins, iron or iodine) act as cofactors in the body in certain metabolic processes and some hormones rely on vitamins and minerals to be produced . As an example, iodine is needed for thyroid hormone production.
3. Toxicity –
can affect hormone communication. Actually, it’s the body’s ability to rid itself of these toxins that affects hormone communication. These chemicals do not have any nutritious or useful qualities, so the body needs to process them out or “detox”. With increased exposure, the detox burden can become too big and excess toxins circulating through the system can affect normal physiology. The result – conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, infertility, anovulation , nutritional deficiencies, depression, anxiety, fatigue, body aches, and more. Here is a short list of some toxins that we exposed to regularly: pesticides, hormone like preservatives in bath and body products, chemicals in gasoline and exhaust fumes, chemicals in our carpets, furniture, plastics and paint. There are other factors that can affect hormone health. Stress, sleep, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and immune system health, other health condition like PCOS or diabetes, to name a few.
The take home message here: For optimal hormone function and fertility, get your body in tip top shape- address your nutritional needs, lifestyle needs and any underlying conditions that might be affecting your vitality.
Contributed by Dr. Elise Schroeder. For Part I of this article, click here. Please address questions for Dr. Schroeder to email@example.com .