Melatonin – “the hormone of darkness” helps fertility
Melatonin, also known as “the hormone of darkness” is the hormone responsible for sleep. This hormone has an effect on the overall hormonal balance and for protecting the health of eggs. This hormone definitely helps fertility.
The levels of this hormone increase at night during darkness, and become lower in the morning on being exposed to light.
Melatonin also plays an important role as an antioxidant by protecting the eggs against damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules that react strongly with other cellular structures because they contain unpaired electrons. These unpaired electrons can cause damage to parts of the cell, such as proteins, DNA, and cell membranes, by “stealing” their electrons in a process called “oxidation” so, basically, free radicals are the “bad guys” that damage our eggs.
Technically, melatonin acts as an anti-oxidant in the ovaries, gets rid of free radicals, and prevents damage to the cells especially during ovulation, when they at their most vulnerable. The final result: optimal amounts of melatonin create healthier and more fertile eggs. This means that shift workers may be at higher risk of fertility problems. A disrupted sleep cycle and too much exposure to light during the night disrupts the daily rhythm, which leads to irregularity of the monthly menstruation, which could negatively impact fertility.
Research into melatonin and fertility has intensified with a new study that indicates that melatonin plays a decisive role also for development of the embryo. Low levels of melatonin production during pregnancy could harm your baby by causing problems with the baby’s biological clock and contributing to health issues down the road.
Melatonin plays an important role in reducing oxidative stress, which increases physiologically during ovulation. This effect becomes more important during IVF treatment. Studies show that melatonin improves the quality of the eggs and the quality of the embryo. A few studies have shown that there is an increase in fertilization and, in one study, melatonin increased the rate of implantation.
A new exciting study showed that women with a low egg quality who underwent IVF and were treated with the melatonin supplement were more likely to fall pregnant. Researchers found that women who took melatonin before their IVF cycle were able to fertilize 50% of their eggs successfully, in comparison to less than 23% of the eggs in the control group. After transfer of the embryo, 19% of the women taking the melatonin supplement conceived compared to 10% of the women who didn’t take it. Support of these findings can also be found in a systematic review from 2014 that found that if the melatonin supplement is taken during IVF, the pregnancy rate increases by 21%!
Also, according to another study, melatonin improves the quality of the egg and the embryo among IVF patients who have sleep disorders. The melatonin supplement is recommended for women about to undergo IVF treatments especially in cases of poor egg quality. The typical dosage is 3 mg a day taken before going to sleep.
The correct timing to start taking the melatonin supplement before starting IVF treatment is still unclear. In most cases, doctors recommend starting to take it a month before the eggs are retrieved or when you start getting hormone injections. There is evidence that even this short period is effective and improves fertilization rates and the proportion of good quality embryos. It’s recommended to stop taking melatonin the day before the eggs are retrieved.
There is evidence that taking a low dosage of melatonin is safe for a healthy person if taken for a short period of time, no more than three months. If you are thinking about taking melatonin to improve your fertility, you definitely need to first consult with your fertility expert.
To remove any doubt, the contents of this article are intended to serve as a general overview only, and the information in it does not relate to a product nor is it intended to provide guidance, it does not comprise a certified medical recommendation, and it is not intended to instruct the public or to be used by it as advice, instruction, or a recommendation for the use, modification, or stopping use of any medication, and does not comprise a substitute for personal or other medical advice. Pregnant women, lactating women, children, and anyone taking prescription drugs must consult a doctor before using dietary supplements.