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For couples who are unable to have children, hormone treatment can increase the chances of pregnancy. In many cases an inability to have children can be attributed to hormonal imbalances. Although hormonal causes can be present in both men and women, hormone treatment is usually performed for women.
Hormone treatment in women aims to promote egg maturation and trigger ovulation. This increases the likelihood of successful fertilisation. The success rates for each treatment cycle can vary greatly depending on the age of the women and the extent of the underlying hormone disorder, ranging between 10 and 20%. In most cases, it therefore makes sense to perform treatment over several months (cycles).
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.