Treatment for Female Infertility & Hormonal Imbalances in McKinney, TX
Female Infertility & Hormonal Imbalances
Are you ovulating? This is the first question you should ask.
Ovulation is the release of an ovum or eggs from an ovary. It is impossible to conceive if eggs are not produced by the ovary. Thus, female infertility occurs as a result of problems with ovulation. Anovulation, when the ovaries do not release an egg during a menstrual cycle, and irregular ovulation usually happen as a result of a hormonal imbalance.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition responsible for anovulation and irregular ovulation in women. PCOS is characterized by the following:
- Irregular periods: Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods, and abnormally heavy periods.
- Excess androgen: Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries: Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.
One out of every ten women experiences hormonal imbalance. However, the condition is usually not known, or most females are not aware that a hormonal imbalance is present. It is difficult for women with PCOS to become pregnant using conventional medicine, and the use of fertility drugs and procedures, such as insemination and in vitro fertilization, are the medically recommended option for treatment.
It is easy to be tested for PCOS in infertility situations. Previously, we thought all women with PCOS were overweight. Studies have revealed that the percentage of women with insulin resistance to women without insulin resistance is 70% and 30%, respectively. The symptoms of insulin resistance in some women may not be visible, and they may look thin and fit. Therefore, identifying this common cause of infertility may take a lot of time, months or even years. This condition is reversible. Lifestyle changes and identifying triggers of PCOS can help in the treatment process.
Other Ovulation Problems
Other factors, such as a hormone imbalance within your hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis or hormone deficiency caused by Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), can cause anovulation. One in a hundred women between the ages of 30 and 39 suffer from POI.
Are You Ovulating at the Appropriate Time?
Day 14 on the cycle is the ideal period for ovulation. In our office, we order a month long hormone test that tracks estrogen and progesterone levels. We can identify if the levels and the timing of the appropriate increase in estrogen and progesterone are occurring at the appropriate days of the cycle. This is very important when attempting to conceive.
Why is Early Ovulation a Problem?
In early ovulation, your eggs may not be well developed for fertility to occur. You may lack the right amount or kind of cervical mucus. There is little time for your uterine lining to develop healthy implantation of a fertilized embryo. Lots of factors, such as hormonal imbalance within the HPO axis, stress hormones, smoking, consuming a high amount of alcohol or caffeine, and also age can result in early ovulation.
Why is Late Ovulation a Problem?
Late ovulation is a problem because the egg may be overripe and not fit for conception. Just like the case in early ovulation, your fertile cervical mucus is unavailable, and you may have an insufficient uterine lining. For ovulation to occur at the right time, you will need the right amount of estrogen, Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), and thyroid hormone. PCOS is often responsible for late ovulation.
Luteal Phase Insufficiency
The luteal phase is a period in a menstrual cycle that occurs after eggs are released from the ovary (ovulation) and before your period commences. In luteal phase insufficiency / defect, it is difficult to maintain pregnancy even after conception because the time between ovulation and your period is too short. The easy way out is to measure progesterone because a deficiency in this hormone can cause a short luteal phase. Thyroid hormone also contributes to this condition. To have a sufficient luteal phase, it is essential there is enough plenty of active thyroid hormone (free T3) and progesterone. The signs of luteal phase defect may include:
- You ovulate close to the 14th day of your cycle but then begin menstruation less than ten days later
- Menstruation may commence with spotting, or you may experience spotting during the luteal phase
- Recurrent miscarriages
It is normal to have low levels of progesterone in your late 30s and early 40s. Nevertheless, little progesterone can still be observed in younger women, even in their 20s. Chaste tree or Vitex which has a reputation for increasing progesterone are taken by many women. It does not increase progesterone levels directly. However, Vitex can stimulate the pituitary gland to increase the production of progesterone in certain cases of pituitary dysfunction within three to four months.
For mature women in their late 30s or early 40s, natural progesterone appears to be a safe option.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid does not produce the required amount of thyroid hormone. An underactive thyroid may occur when one suffers from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Low amount of thyroid hormones can interfere with conception and cause loss of early pregnancy. It is crucial you prevent immune disruptions before conceiving.
There is a possibility that the tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus could get blocked and prevent the sperm from coming in contact with the eggs or reaching the uterus for implantation. Blockage of the fallopian tubes may occur as a result of scar tissues caused by infections or surgeries in the past. Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a simple test that can help determine blockage in the fallopian tubes. The HSG test can increase your chance of conception because it serves as a method of cleaning your pipes.
Endometriosis / Fibroids
These conditions can create structural blockages that can alter the fallopian tubes or uterus. Luckily, an ultrasound can help reveal the presence of fibroids. To identify Endometriosis, which is more tricky, a laparoscopy is performed. Any of these tests can be recommended for women that experience heavy and painful periods, although other factors such as low thyroid hormones or blocked tubes can result in heavy and painful periods.
A bicornuate uterus is a condition where the uterus is shaped in the form of a heart. The heart shape can vary from slight to quite significant. The term quite significant implies that the uterus is functionally almost divided in half. Because this happens in the fallopian tube, it can interfere with implantation and growth but not conception.
A bicornuate uterus is a rare condition, and only 1% of women have a uterus shaped like a heart. However, it is essential you know about this condition because it is another potential fertility impediment. Treatment options exist for all structural causes directly or using reproductive technology.
When a woman with infertility comes for a checkup, the first thing we do it to identify the possible cause, the group such cause belongs to, and also plan out treatment methods for the woman, her spouse or the both of them. Our work becomes easier if you have identified structural factors with the help of your gynecologist.
As certified functional medicine practitioners, we help identify the root cause from a biology perspective, instead of examining the individual parts, organs, or systems alone. When determining the cause of infertility, instead of only looking at your reproductive organs and hormones, we assess how your detoxification, digestion, and adrenal systems influence your reproductive functions.
We opt for the best and safest treatment methods in all cases. However, our techniques constitute a combination of traditional and modern medicine, including the use of supplements, herbal medications and low doses of bioidentical hormones.
Functional Causes of Infertility May Include, But Are Not Limited To:
- Thyroid disorders
- Imbalance in the HPO (hypothalamic pituitary ovarian) axis or HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) axis
- Deficiency of essential nutrients such as iron, ferritin, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B, vitamin D, and others
- Estrogen dominance from environmental endocrine disruptors
- Malabsorption problems due to dysbiosis, food intolerances, and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract
- Inflammation and immune dysregulation
- Detoxification insufficiency
Identifying the functional cause can help reveal unknown or unexplained causes of infertility.
How to Determine Functional Causes and What Actions to Take
A Certified Functional Medicine practitioner can identify functional causes by checking your health history and utilizing functional blood laboratories. With Functional Medicine testing, specific factors such as adrenal hormone imbalance, female hormonal imbalances, or dysbiosis (abnormal gut microbes) can be identified.
In our office, we evaluate all of the three main body systems: hormonal, gastrointestinal, and detoxification. Many times correcting the underlying malfunctioning body system or systems and adjusting a few lifestyle habits are enough to make the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance vanish. As we see all too often in practice, each one of these body systems, if not functioning properly, affects the others. These systems do not function independently of each other. This is the main reason we test and help you correct all three of the main body systems to bring about the optimal health you desire.
When we identify the primary cause, we determine if it is possible to treat them naturally without the help of reproductive technology. This is dependent on your individual condition.
We put age into consideration. In as much as fertility declines after age 35, we are concerned with the time available to help you conceive naturally. This is dependent on your priorities and the time you are willing to give it! You can relax more when you take more time, preferably 12 months or less. It is no longer news that with the functional approach, women can get pregnant.
“With all of the treatments that are available for women with hormonal imbalances, resolution of your underlying problems and the path to pregnancy is safer and closer than ever before.” If you are experiencing symptoms above and want help with infertility issues, call Optum Health Center at 214-665-4100 and set up an appointment today.