When couples are having trouble getting pregnant, there can be many medically treatable reasons. Often, when the subject of fertility hormones comes up, most couples and many doctors think fertility hormones are just important on the female side. However, there are many hormone abnormalities that affect men just as significantly as women.
Part of your male fertility assessment at UCLA Health—The Men’s Clinic will likely include blood hormone studies so your physicians can best optimize your chances of establishing a pregnancy. Testosterone is a very important male fertility hormone that has profound effects on sperm production and health. Managing testosterone levels in the male fertility patient is tricky. That’s why it’s critical for couples to seek out highly specialized male reproductive specialists like the physicians at The Men’s Clinic at UCLA Health. Your Men’s Clinic doctors will also likely check estradiol levels. This hormone is produced by the breakdown of testosterone and can negatively affect pituitary hormones if it is too high. This in turn can decrease testosterone levels. Estradiol levels are often higher in obese men so your UCLA Men’s Clinic physician will also discuss exercise and weight loss options as well as medical therapies to help bring down estradiol levels.
The pituitary gland makes a few hormones that affect male fertility as well and often will be assessed through a blood test. The Follicle Stimulating Hormone, (FSH), is the pituitary hormone directly responsible for signaling the testicle to make sperm. If this hormone is low, the testicle is not receiving the signal it needs to make sperm. If the FSH is high, the testicle is not functioning properly. LH, (lutenizing hormone), directly signals the testicle to make testosterone. Just like FSH, LH levels will be high when the testicle isn’t doing its job and testosterone levels are low. If LH is low, the pituitary gland is not doing what it should be and may need medical therapy to improve its performance. Lastly, there’s prolactin, a hormone that can derail the whole pituitary testicular communication pathway when its level is too high. Sometimes, prolactin levels are high from a benign tumor in the pituitary gland that can be treated with medication. Prolactin elevation can cause men difficulty in achieving orgasm or may have no symptoms at all.
Board-certified urologists staff The Men’s Clinic at UCLA and you can be assured you are getting an experienced physician performing your evaluation and procedure in a relaxed and comfortable environment. For more information and to schedule an appointment, please call the UCLA Urology Appointment line at (310) 794-7700.