For women dealing with fertility problems tied to skipped periods and low levels of sex hormones, some encouraging news. According to a recent study from researchers in Britain, twice weekly injections of a little-known hormone may be all that is needed to jumpstart normal menstruation and restore fertility.
The findings, presented on March 16, 2010, before a meeting of the Society for Endocrinology, looked at the effects of kisspeptin, a hormone that is released in the body at the beginning of puberty and believed to play a key role in regulating sex hormone production. Twice a week over the course of two months, researchers administered either kisspeptin or saline to a group of 10 women. At the end of the two months, women treated with kisspeptin saw a 16-fold increase in sex hormone production, compared to those who received saline only.
Further study is needed, researchers note, but "the results of our study are exciting as they show that kisspeptin may be a novel method for restoring fertility to women with certain types of infertility. Our findings show that an injection of kisspeptin given twice weekly can reinvigorate the reproductive hormone system in women and raise their levels of luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, both of which are essential for fertility," says study author Dr. Waljit Dhillo.
Women in the study were all diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA), a condition in which menstruation stops for several months due to a problem involving the hypothalamus—the master control for hormone production in the body (including sex hormones). HA most often occurs in women who exercise excessively, lose too much body weight, or suffer from anorexia. For some women, gaining weight or cutting back on exercise may be all that is needed to reverse the condition.