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Understanding Reproductive Hormones

Mar 08, 2023
Reproductive hormone imbalances are often the issue behind infertility. Learning more about the hormones responsible for conception can help you navigate your fertility journey.

An imbalance of reproductive hormones is a common problem for couples who have been trying to conceive for over a year with no luck. But which hormones are in this group, and how do they work together to help you get pregnant? 

Knowing the facts will help you recognize the factors associated with conception and better understand your hormonal testing results before taking any next steps.

At our Gen 5 Fertility office in San Diego, California, we help you learn more about the possible roadblocks in your fertility journey and offer you options that help make conception more successful. Our providers — Dr. Samuel WoodDr. Benito Villanueva, and Dr. Martin Bastuba — offer hormonal testing as one of the initial options for fertility testing.

A briefing on reproductive hormones

Reproductive hormones include all those associated with sexuality, puberty, and fertility. For our purposes, we focus on the fertility hormones that allow you to become pregnant or to get someone else pregnant. 

In the United States, between 10 and 15% of couples deal with infertility problems, which means they’ve been trying to have a baby for over a year without success. Determining if this could be due to a hormone imbalance is often a great way to start investigating because hormonal testing only requires a blood sample.

The common reproductive hormones 

Both women and men have reproductive hormones, but they produce different effects, some of which can affect conception and pregnancy. 


Testosterone is the male sex hormone, and it occurs in both sexes. If a man’s level is too low, it can cause lower sperm production; if a woman’s level is too high, it can be difficult for her to conceive.


The primary female hormone, estrogen, has three types: estriol, estradiol, and estrone. In females, it helps to keep the lining of the uterus healthy, so it needs to be at a certain level to perform this function. Men also have estrogen; like testosterone in women, high levels can create fertility problems. 


Progesterone is a female sex hormone that regulates menstruation, prepares the body for pregnancy by thickening the endometrium lining to host a fertilized egg, and prevents the contractions that cause the body to expel unneeded eggs during menstruation. 

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

FSH comes from the pituitary gland and regulates egg production. Lower levels of FSH are best for conception, but as you age, your FSH levels tend to rise. If your FSH is too low or too high, you may experience fertility problems. 

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

LH, another pituitary hormone, causes the ovaries to produce oestradiol, signaling the body to create more progesterone post-fertilization. Levels of LH rise somewhat before ovulation, but moderate levels are best.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) 

Pregnancy tests detect hCG, the hormone that helps eggs develop normally and causes the egg to release during ovulation. Low hCG levels aren’t necessarily a sign of infertility, but the hormone can be given as a shot to induce ovulation to help women conceive. 

What to do if you have a hormonal imbalance

If your or your partner’s tests indicate a hormone imbalance, you can begin to consider your treatment options. Depending on your situation and needs, we’re happy to help you find the best choice for your family. 

To get hormonal testing, visit us at our San Diego, California, office. Simply make an appointment using our online system, or call us today.