Two important hormones to test for Infertility Treatments
When treating infertility there are multiple tests that we screen for to look for additional potential causes or contributing factors that may be making it more difficult for a couple to conceive. Two important fertility tests that can help determine the root cause(s) for infertility are elevated Prolactin and Cortisol Hormones.
Prolactin and cortisol are considered stress hormones. The former is produced during pregnancy and breastfeeding to help increase milk production. Both hormones, however, can also be elevated outside of pregnancy and breastfeeding for many factors. In particular, one of the main causes that can lead to an increase in both of these hormones is stress! It can be psychological, physical exertion, or emotional stress. They can all lead to an increase in these hormones.
Prolactin is produced from the pituitary gland (located in the brain) and cortisol is produced from the adrenal gland (sitting on top of the kidney) and both have been shown to decrease the production of sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone.
A new research paper recently published found that patients diagnosed with infertility were much more likely to have higher levels of cortisol + prolactin. lower levels of estrogen, and lower levels of luteinizing hormone during ovulation (LH surge). Estrogen is required to support implantation and pregnancy and LH is required to support a healthy and high quality ovulation (ovulation can range from low to good quality based on follicle size, progesterone production, and more).
It is important to mention that while this study looks at the correlation between elevated cortisol and prolactin with infertility, it does not establish causation. However, many small studies over the years have found a similar trend, and we understand from the physiological impact of prolactin and cortisol that they suppress the production of important reproductive hormones required to support conception and maintain pregnancy.
Wdowiak, A., Raczkiewicz, D., Janczyk, P., Bojar, I., Makara-Studzińska, M., & Wdowiak-Filip, A. (2020). Interactions of Cortisol and Prolactin with Other Selected Menstrual Cycle Hormones Affecting the Chances of Conception in Infertile Women. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(20), 7537.
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. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.