Everything you need to know about Hormones and Fertility

We’ve all heard of hormones before, but do we actually know what role they play in keeping our body functioning efficiently? While they can influence everything from our mood to our digestion, hormones also play a major role in our fertility, too. 


By understanding what hormones are, how they interact with other systems in our body and what link they have to our fertility, we can identify when things might not be quite right. Plus, there are practical steps we can take to rebalance our hormones naturally to keep our body working at its best.


Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about hormones and fertility. 

Hormones 

Let’s start with the basics. Hormones are part of our body’s endocrine system. This system is made up of a bunch of glands and organs throughout our bodies that produce hormones and pump them straight into our bloodstream. 


Hormones play a crucial role in sending messages to different parts of our body. They help to influence and control functions by transporting signals from our glands to target cells


But, each hormone has a particular role and will only influence specific parts of our body. It’s kind of like a lock and key: if the hormone reaches the right target site (organ), it will attach itself to the cell wall and start working. 


Generally speaking, our endocrine system covers a range of functions, including:

  • Growth
  • Repair
  • Sexual reproduction 
  • Digestion
  • Homeostasis (keeping our body in balance) 

So, what main parts of our body are influenced by the endocrine system?

  • Pituitary glands: these are located inside the brain and keep our hormone levels in check.
  • Thyroid gland: these are located in our neck and regulate our metabolism. 
  • Parathyroid gland: these are found next to our thyroid gland and regulate levels of calcium, phosphate and vitamin D in our body. 
  • Adrenal glands: these sit on top of each kidney and influence everything from our cortisol levels to our sex hormones (which are closely tied to our nervous system, too).
  • Pancreas: this is one of our digestive organs in our abdomen and is responsible for making insulin (which controls the amount of sugar in our bloodstream). 
  • Ovaries: these are part of the female reproductive system and produce female sex hormones such as oestrogen. 
  • Testes: these are part of the male reproductive system and produce male sex hormones such as testosterone.  

How hormones influence our ovulation process

Our menstrual cycle is much more complex than simply when we’re bleeding and when we’re not. 


In fact, our entire menstrual cycle is influenced by hormones, with chemicals prompting our ovaries to produce different levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone at key points throughout our cycle. 


Typically, our menstrual cycle runs between 28 to 29 days (but this can vary from woman to woman as well as cycle to cycle). During our cycle, there are four key phrases:

  • Menstruation: this is when the thickened lining of our uterus is eliminated by our body, causing our period to occur where our body will bleed for anywhere from three to seven days.

  • Follicular phrase: this phase begins on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation, and is prompted by our pituitary glands releasing the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone stimulates the lining of our uterus and prompts it to thicken, enables an egg to mature and prepares the body for possible pregnancy.

  • Ovulation: at this point, a mature egg is released from the surface of the ovary (caused by a rising level of oestrogen). This mature egg then moves into the fallopian tubes and towards our uterus. If a sperm reaches the egg within 24 hours it may lead to pregnancy (known as our “fertile window”). If not, the egg will die.

  • Luteal phase: after ovulation, the ruptured follicles left behind by our mature eggs transforms into what’s known as a corpus luteum which starts to release progesterone and small amounts of oestrogen. These hormones ensure the conditions in our uterus remain optimal for a fertilised egg to stick and implant. 
    • If pregnancy doesn’t occur, this structure withers and dies and our progesterone levels drop, which prompt the lining of our uterus to shed (marking the start of menstruation). 

The link between hormone imbalance and fertility 

As you can tell, hormones help to keep our body balanced and working properly. However, if we have too much (or too little) of certain hormones, our body may lose the ability of function effectively. 


While it’s important to speak with your doctor if you notice a change in your body, some of the common symptoms of hormonal imbalance can include:

  • Excessive weight gain: high levels of estrogen, cortisol and insulin can cause the body to rapidly gain weight.

  • Sweaty skin: changes in our endocrine system can cause our body to sweat more than usual.

  • Lower libido: variations in our estrogen and progesterone levels or even an under active thyroid can impact our sex drive.

  • Hair loss: significant hair loss can be the result of low thyroid function, high levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) as well as if you’re experiencing a hormone-related condition such as PCOS (but more on that in a second).

  • Fatigue: while changes in our energy levels are normal, if you’re constantly feeling extremely fatigued this may be due to an issue in your thyroid gland.

  • Persistent acne: changes and imbalances in our hormones (such as high levels of androgens like testosterone) can trigger acne and other skin conditions. 

Our hormones also have an enormous impact on our menstrual cycle and our ability to conceive. Imbalances in our hormones can cause our periods to become painful, irregulation or absent, making it difficult to track our cycle and understand when we’re ovulating. 


Plus, hormonal imbalances are linked to conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal condition that impacts 1 in 10 fertile women. This condition causes women to produce high levels of the male hormones in their ovaries, changes to our menstrual cycle and can lead to cysts developing on our ovaries.  

Treatments available for hormone imbalance 

But hormonal imbalance isn’t a lifelong condition. In fact, there are plenty of practical ways you can redress hormonal imbalances by making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. 


Some natural ways to restore hormonal balance in your body include: 

  • Adding more healthy wholefoods into your diet and minimising your intake of processed foods: adding more vitamins and nutrients into your body can assist your body’s natural hormonal balance.

  • Support your diet with carefully curated natural vitamins and minerals: our Female Elixir has been developed by leading fertility experts to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow to our reproductive organs and regulate hormonal balance during our cycle.

  • Lower your intake of caffeine and alcohol: these substances can cause extra stress to our endocrine system and stop our detoxifying organs (such as our liver and kidneys) from operating at their best.

  • Add restorative exercises into your routine: incorporating gentle yin movements, yoga stretches and meditation into your routine can reduce stress and restore balance to your endocrine system. 

Our hormones do so much important work to keep our body operating at its best. If you notice changes to your body that feel out of the ordinary, make sure to book in and speak with your GP to get to the bottom of what’s going on. And remember, there are always simple, natural ways to restore hormonal balance that you can implement into your routine today.