How to treat hormonal imbalance to get pregnant

Black woman taking medication to treat hormonal imbalance

Key takeaways:

  • Hormones play important roles in different developmental stages of the human body, including puberty and pregnancy.
  • Ways to treat hormonal imbalances in order to get pregnant include estrogen hormone therapy, thyroid hormone therapy, and the use of medications like metformin.
  • Different things can contribute to hormonal imbalances, such as menopause and medical conditions.

Over 50 hormones are identified in the human body. When any of these hormones are affected, such that they are produced in larger or smaller quantities, it can lead to hormonal imbalance.

Interestingly, like many other bodily processes, hormones play important roles in pregnancy and reproductive age.

The main hormones active during pregnancy are estrogen and progesterone; these two hormones are also easily prone to fluctuating and causing hormonal imbalance. When this happens, it can affect fertility or even lead to complications during pregnancy.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat hormonal imbalance to increase the chances of pregnancy, such as taking medications and opting for hormonal therapy.

Suppose you have health issues like endocrine tumors or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which cause your hormones to fluctuate. In that case, it may help to speak with an endocrinologist about treatment options to prevent reproductive or fertility issues.

How to treat hormonal imbalance to increase chances of pregnancy

Ways to treat hormonal imbalance to get pregnant include:

1. Vaginal Estrogen

Vaginal estrogen application is a simple way to help people who have an estrogen hormone imbalance. When estrogen levels drop due to an imbalance, it can cause dryness of the vagina, making sex painful and uncomfortable. It could make couples trying to have a baby uncomfortable during sex. This is where the use of vaginal estrogen comes in handy.

In cases of vaginal dryness, your doctor may recommend vaginal estrogen cream. This will help reduce estrogen imbalance symptoms, causing increased vaginal lubrication.

2. Estrogen hormone therapy

Estrogen hormone therapy is commonly used to treat an infertility issue caused by menopause. Female hormones, like estrogen decline as a person approaches menopause. This causes people to experience premenopause symptoms like hot flashes, weight changes, irregular periods, and vaginal dryness.

If you are over 35, experience premenopausal symptoms, but wish to have a baby, it will be helpful to see your gynecologist and discuss your chances of pregnancy. In some cases, they may recommend estrogen hormone therapy as a treatment option to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Hormone therapy involves using medications that contain female hormones to replace the estrogen that the body is not making in the right amount. It is effective for treating common menopausal symptoms.

3. Thyroid hormone therapy

This therapy is good for people who have hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland does not produce and release enough thyroid hormones into the bloodstream). It involves using the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Unithroid) to treat an underactive thyroid that secretes little or insufficient amounts of hormones.

Thyroid hormones are important for the normal development of a fetus's nervous system, particularly the brain.

4. Metformin

Another way you can treat hormonal imbalance to get pregnant is by taking medications like metformin.

People with health conditions like diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) usually have a hormonal imbalance. Metformin is a type 2 diabetes drug, and it will be helpful if you have diabetes and need to treat hormonal imbalances. Metformin is also used to treat PCOS.

If you have a hormonal imbalance due to these conditions and want to get pregnant, your doctor may place you on metformin. A 2012 study has shown that the use of metformin by pregnant people with PCOS reduces the rate of preterm labor and early pregnancy loss.

5. Eat a balanced diet

Having a well-balanced diet helps maintain overall health. When your general health is great, you feel good about yourself. It is easier to get into the mood for sex when you are physically fit.

6. Regulated weight loss

Obesity is one of the triggers of hormonal imbalance, so being able to regulate your hormones is a good way to prevent and treat hormonal imbalance.

Also, studies have shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of reproductive health issues like miscarriage, infertility, and pregnancy complications.

So, it may be helpful if you treat hormonal imbalance with a holistic approach by taking care of your body's physiological and physical aspects. Eat healthily and exercise regularly to keep your weight in check. This is one effective way of treating hormonal imbalance to get pregnant.

Meaning of hormonal imbalance

A hormonal imbalance is a shift in the normal balance of your hormones, which can also affect their functions. This happens when your body secretes too little or too much of a certain hormone.

Hormones are chemical messengers secreted from endocrine glands directly into the blood. The blood carries them into different organs and tissues, where they will perform different functions.

Hormones perform various functions, including aiding food metabolism, enhancing sexual function, reproductive health, cognitive function, mood, maintaining body temperature, and regulating thirst, development, and growth.

If any of the glands secrete a particular hormone in excess, even in small quantities, it will result in hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal imbalance causes different symptoms depending on the hormone that is affected. Some hormonal imbalances severely affect health and will require treatment. Some common conditions caused by hormonal imbalance include infertility, irregular menstruation, acne, diabetes, obesity, and thyroid disease.

Some won't affect your health or require treatment, but they may affect your way of life. For example, if the hormones responsible for mood enhancement are not secreted in the right amount, you might sink into depression.

Causes of hormonal imbalance

Natural factors and chronic health conditions can disrupt hormones and cause hormonal imbalance.

Natural factors

Some natural factors that can contribute to hormonal imbalance include:

  • Puberty
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy

Medical conditions

Medical conditions that can also predispose to hormonal imbalance include:

1. Injury or damage to an endocrine gland

The pituitary glands, ovary, pineal gland, pancreas, and testes are all components of the endocrine system and secrete hormones directly into the blood.

Surgery can cause injury to an endocrine gland (if the damage affects a gland that produces hormones, like the parathyroid gland). Excessive or lack of blood flow to a gland, radiation therapy, and brain trauma can also cause endocrine gland injuries.

2. Adenomas

Adenomas are non-cancerous tumors. Most adenomas are not active, so they don't produce hormones.

However, there are some adenomas known as functioning adenomas. These types produce hormones, affecting your endocrine system and leading to hormonal imbalances. Common adenomas include pituitary adenoma, parathyroid adenoma, and adrenal adenoma.

3. Endocrine tumor

Some endocrine tumors cause excess production of hormones, including:

  • Carcinoid tumors: These are neuroendocrine tumors that grow from the neuroendocrine cells. (neuroendocrine cells are cells of the neuroendocrine system) They receive messages from the nervous system and, in turn, release hormones.
  • Pheochromocytoma: This is a rare tumor that usually occurs in the middle of the adrenal glands
  • Adrenocortical carcinoma: This is a cancerous tumor that occurs in the adrenal cortex.

How hormonal imbalance can prevent pregnancy

Hormones help control how the body works and are important for a healthy pregnancy and the growth of the baby.

Imbalances in reproductive hormones might affect pregnancy by delaying it, preventing it from happening or causing miscarriage.

If a person's hormones that control menstruation, ovulation, and the protection of unfertilized eggs are out of whack, it might be hard for them to get pregnant.

The role of hormones in pregnancy

Hormones contribute to the development of sexual characteristics such as breast and pubic hairs in adolescents' bodies. It also plays a significant role in pregnancy and fetal development.

During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone are the primary hormones that are most active. Other hormones also found active during pregnancy include Human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) and Human placental lactogen (hPL).

1. Estrogen

Pregnant women produce a high amount of estrogen. This hormone increases the uterus and placenta's ability to transfer nutrients, support the developing baby, and improve blood vessel formation.

Estrogen levels begin to rise during the first trimester. It usually reaches its peak in the last trimester.

Estrogen is associated with early pregnancy symptoms like nausea in the first trimester, while it helps develop the milk duct in the second trimester. So, estrogen plays a vital role during pregnancy.

2. Human Placental lactogen (hPL)

They are also known as human chorionic somatomammotropin (HCS). These hormones provide nutrition to the fetus and also help stimulate milk glands in the breasts. The hormone plays a role in the control of embryonic growth.2

3. Human Chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG)

This is a hormone that develops from the placenta and only during pregnancy. These hormones increase in the blood and urine of the mother in the first trimester. It can also be produced in small amounts in the pituitary gland, colon, and liver.

They have been linked to nausea and vomiting normally experienced in the first trimester.

HCG hormones help to stimulate the corpus luteum to produce progesterone to maintain the pregnancy.

4. Progesterone

Progesterone is responsible for increasing the size of internal structures during pregnancy to accommodate the baby.

An example of an internal structure that can be increased in size is the ureter (the connection between the kidney and bladder)—the ureter changes in size to accommodate a baby.

The high increase in progesterone during pregnancy also helps loosen ligaments and functions to increase the blood flow to the uterus. It can cause the glands in the endometrium to make nutrients that will sustain the early embryo. Another function of progesterone is to stimulate and establish the placenta.

Symptoms of hormonal imbalance

There are different symptoms of hormonal imbalance. This is because over 50 hormones in the body perform different functions. So, your symptoms will depend on the hormones that were affected.

If the hormonal imbalance affects your metabolism (digestion), you may notice symptoms like:

  • Sudden or unexpected weight loss or weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Tiredness or Fatigue
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Skin tags
  • Dry throat / extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination

Symptoms of hormonal imbalance affecting female sex hormones

The main sex hormones in females are estrogen and progesterone, and the ovaries produce them. If these hormones become too much or too little, they can present symptoms like:

  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Hot flashes
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular menstrual flow
  • Lack of sexual interest
  • Vaginal atrophy (reduction of the size of the vagina)
  • Dryness in the Vagina
  • Infertility

Symptoms of hormonal imbalance affecting male sex hormones

There can be an imbalance in testosterone and other male hormones. Symptoms that can be associated with this include:

  • Infertility
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced body hair
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Lack of interest in sex

When to see a doctor for fertility issues

If your plan to have children is naturally delayed, you might think you have fertility problems.

How will you know when to see a doctor for fertility issues? You should visit your doctor if you fall into any of the categories listed below.

  • You have had sex without protection or birth control consistently for 12 months, without any sign of conception
  • You have had multiple miscarriages
  • You are up to 35 years and you have had sex for 6 months without protection or birth control
  • You have irregular menstruation, painful menstruation, or heavy flow (it might be an underlying sign of fertility issues)
  • Your partner has any signs of erectile dysfunction (erectile dysfunction can affect a couple's fertility)
  • You have chronic illnesses like diabetes, genetic disorders, hypertension, kidney disease, and thyroid condition (these conditions can indirectly affect your fertility)

Not getting pregnant in within 12 months of consistently having unprotected sex does not necessarily indicate that you are barren or infertile. However, it is expected that most people conceive within that period. It is best to see your doctor for a proper check-up.

Wrap up

Hormonal imbalance can cause infertility or a lack of pregnancy in women if they are not treated properly. If you have been diagnosed with any condition that causes hormonal imbalance, with the right treatment, you can still have a baby (unless your healthcare team says otherwise).

If you notice symptoms like mood swings, painful sex, breast tenderness, irregular or absent periods, and hot flashes, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.