The Theory of Fertility
About hormones and what they do
Our reproductive system is governed and controlled by hormones. These are substances produced by certain glands and cells in our bodies. These hormones are released into the bloodstream in order to reach the specific organs which they stimulate into performing specific tasks. They deliver a signal to the organ, which in turn performs the function determined by the hormone. Both in males and females, the production and maturation of reproductive cells (sperm and egg) are controlled by Gonadatrophins; hormones which act specifically upon the reproductive organs.
In fertility medicine, we use our knowledge of how these hormones function (also see hormone preparations used) to improve the chances of fertilisation.
GnRH: Activates the production of LH and FSH.
FSH: follicle stimulating hormone. Stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles and also the testis to produce sperm.
LH: luteinising hormone. Stimulates ovulation and the production of testosterone in both the ovaries and testis.
In both males and females, the presence of gonadotrophins in the bloodstream results in the production of sex hormones, which are produced in the reproductive organs:
- oestrogen and progesterone: female sex hormones;
- testosterone: male sex hormone.
During pregnancy, an additional hormone is produced by the placenta:
hCG: human chorion gonadotrophin or 'pregnancy hormone', which indirectly supports the evolution of the pregnancy.