When is hormone treatment useful?
Hormone treatment is particularly suitable for women with impaired egg maturation and/or impaired or no ovulation at all. In most cases, the cause is a disturbance of the balance between the male hormone (androgen) and female hormone (oestrogen) (hyperandrogenism). In affected women, the egg follicles mature only to a small size (about 6-8 mm) and ovulation does not occur.
In some women, increased numbers of egg follicles are found on the ovaries in an ultrasound scan, meaning the monthly maturation of a single follicle may be delayed or prevented. This disorder is referred to as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In these cases too, hormone therapy can be used to achieve maturation and subsequent ovulation.
In much rarer cases, there is a reduced concentration of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or luteinising hormone (LH). FSH promotes the growth of egg follicles in which the eggs mature. There is one egg in each follicle. LH is primarily responsible for ovulation, i.e. releasing the egg from the follicle into the ovarian tube.
There are also other hormonal causes of impaired follicle maturation. For example, an increased concentration of the hormone prolactin can also inhibit fertility. Prolactin promotes the growth of the mammary glands during pregnancy and suppresses ovulation. An increased prolactin concentration before pregnancy can be treated with prolactin-inhibiting medications.
It is also important not to overlook the thyroid hormones. Normal thyroid levels play an important role in the chances of pregnancy. Hypothyroidism can be treated by a regular administration of thyroid hormone preparations.