The treatment of infertility can be highly variable based on the cause of infertility. Either from a specific reproductive disorder or just unexplained infertility, there are many adjunctive treatments that can be helpful in improving fertility rates.
In the past few weeks there has been more research published on how Melatonin may be able to help in certain cases of infertility. Melatonin is an endogenous hormone that plays a critical part of our internal clock (circadian rhythm). It signals the brain when it should be winding down in the evening and night time to help promote sleep.
However, this is just one of the physiological effects of Melatonin. Another physiological effect is that it can function as a potent antioxidant.
Melatonin can concentrate in the preovulatory follicular fluid of the ovary, indicating it may have an effect on ovarian function. Melatonin has been observed to help support steroidogenesis (production of sex hormones) and folliculogenesis (follicle development) in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Specific to patients with PCOS, a small randomized clinical trial recently published showed that melatonin may be able to help reduce circulation of testosterone (whereas in PCOS it is usually elevated), increase follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and therefore improve folliculogenesis, help normalize menstrual cycles, and possibly improve insulin regulation. Women who did not receive treatment had, on average, 2 menstrual cycles in 6 months and Women who were treated with melatonin every night for 6 months had about 4 menstrual cycles in the 6 months.
In PCOS the reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is elevated, and the melatonin may help by being able to reduce the damage the ROS exert on the ovary and help protect the follicles from damage, support their maturation, and help normalize ovulation.
In another study melatonin was found to help protect the ovaries in patients undergoing chemotherapy and possibly help to preserve fertility.
Although the results from these trials are promising, the sizes of both studies were small and the results should be tested in larger clinical trials.
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor or Primary Care Provider.
1. Tagliaferri, V., Romualdi, D., Scarinci, E., Cicco, S. D., Florio, C. D., Immediata, V., Apa, R. (2017). Melatonin Treatment May Be Able to Restore Menstrual Cyclicity in Women With PCOS: A Pilot Study. Reproductive Sciences, 193371911771126.
2. Jang, H., Hong, K., & Choi, Y. (2017). Melatonin and Fertoprotective Adjuvants: Prevention against Premature Ovarian Failure during Chemotherapy. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(6), 1221.