Melatonin And Fertility

Melatonin, is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland in the brain and helps regulate sleep patterns. By resetting the internal body clock it can help insomniacs to sleep better. It is also helps in cases of seasonally affected depression. Most people know it as an over-the-counter or prescription medication to help conquer jet lag, but melatonin may now have a new use.

Scientists at the World Congress of Fertility and Sterility in Munich, September 2010, heard that women with poor egg quality having IVF treatments who were also treated with melatonin were more likely to get pregnant.

The Study

Poor egg quality is one of the causes of infertility in women and up to now there has been no treatment available to help this condition. However it seems that melatonin may now be able to do the trick. Apparently melatonin helps to improve the quality of the egg by reducing the level of an oxidizing agent called 8-OHdG in the egg. Researchers found that women taking 3mg of melatonin before their next IVF cycle had 50% of their eggs becoming fertilized compared to less than 23% of the eggs of the control group. Following embryo transfer, 19% of the women taking the melatonin became pregnant compared to just over 10% of the women who didn't take it.

Although this was a small study of only 115 women at the Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, the results are nevertheless significant. Associate Professor Hiroshi Tamura, the team's leader, believes that "melatonin treatment is likely to become a significant option for improving oocyte quality in women who cannot become pregnant because of poor oocyte (egg) quality"

The Next Step

The next step in the research, apart from repeating the study with a larger group of women, is to study exactly how oxidizing agents play a part in reducing the quality of women's eggs. This research is particularly significant as melatonin was previously believed to lower FSH levels and increase prolactin levels in most women, which are generally considered to lower fertility. However, other research shows that melatonin helps relieve depression in premenopausal women and may help to restore fertility where thyroid function is also affected.

Melatonin And You

According to research cited in both the Journal of General Internal Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, it appears that taking a low doses of melatonin is safe for a healthy person if taken for a short time period. i.e. less than three months. Melatonin is normally taken at night before bed for a variety of sleep disorders and jet lag. Doses vary between 0.3mg and 3.0mg or even higher but it seems that a smaller dose often works better than a larger one. If however you are thinking of taking melatonin to boost your fertility you should discuss the issue with your physician or fertility specialist and mention this latest research.

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