Medical contribution by Anne Brawner Namnoum, M.D.
A native of Atlanta, Dr. Namnoum attended The Westminster Schools and received her undergraduate degree from Williams College. She earned her medical degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Johns Hopkins as well. She directed the IVF program at Johns Hopkins before returning to Atlanta, where she practiced at Emory and Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine.
Hormones play a huge role in your ability to get pregnant. Some hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, which impacts one’s ability to become pregnant, and also play an important role during pregnancy.
“When couples are struggling to conceive, many don’t realize that they have a hormonal imbalance because the signs may not always visible” says SGF Atlanta’s Dr. Anne Namnoum. “Knowing what hormones impact fertility and how we help patients with a hormonal imbalance get pregnant is an important first step,” adds Namnoum.
Dr. Namnoum sheds light on how patients with a hormonal imbalance can become pregnant, and signs and warning signals that indicate it’s time to seek help.
Q: What hormones impact fertility?
The most important hormones for fertility are anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).
- Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) – This hormone is produced by ovarian follicles, or the sack that contains the immature egg. Its primary function is to support the immature eggs. Measuring this hormone is one of the best predictors of how many eggs you have remaining in your ovaries.
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – This hormone is directly linked to fertility, as its key function is to help regulate the menstrual cycle and induce the production of eggs in the ovaries. Women who have a loss of ovarian function often have higher FSH levels, as their bodies are trying to compensate for this dysfunction.
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – This hormone signals the body to release a mature egg. Ovulation predictor kits depend on the measurement of this hormone, as levels generally surge immediately before ovulation.
Other hormones such as thyroid hormones, prolactin, and progesterone can also become imbalanced affecting your ability to conceive. These hormone imbalances can be determined through an infertility work-up, or evaluation.
Q: How does a hormonal imbalance impact my fertility?
The biggest issue related to infertility and hormonal imbalances is ovulatory dysfunction. Without ovulation, a women is unable to conceive. Another cause of a hormonal imbalance is a short luteal phase. The length of this phase is controlled by progesterone, the hormone that maintains the thickness and strength of the uterine lining. The average luteal phase is 13 to 14 days. If you have a luteal phase shorter than 10 days, an embryo might not have enough time to implant.
Q: How would I know if I had a hormonal imbalance?
While every women is different and some signs are more noticeable than others, the most common include:
- Menstrual cycle irregularity
- Spotting or irregular bleeding
- New or worsening acne
- Facial hair
- Male-pattern body hair
- Male-pattern hair loss
- Unexplained weight gain
- Extreme mood changes
Q: How can I get pregnant with a hormonal imbalance?
Depending on the specific diagnosis, medication is often the first line of treatment, which helps to restore the hormonal function to help induce ovulation and trigger the release of a matured egg.
Since hormone imbalances can also be attributed to weight, a weight-loss treatment plan may be recommended to help restore the hormonal imbalance.
“If you are having difficulty conceiving, don’t wait to seek the help you need. Early fertility intervention offers the best chances of success. Scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist will give you the answers you need to help get you on the road to parenthood,” says Namnoum.
SGF Atlanta has three locations in Alpharetta, Atlanta-Northside, and Buckhead-Piedmont. To schedule an appointment with one of Shady Grove Fertility Atlanta’s three physicians, Drs. Mark Perloe, Desireé McCarthy-Keith, or Anne Namnoum, please call 1-877-971-7755 or complete this brief online form