Leptin and Your Fertility - A New Hormone

Ryan's picture
Leptin is a very interesting hormone that I have been reading about recently.  It plays major roles in weight management, fertility and a persons energy.  Leptin's relatively recent discovery makes it not entirely understood but more research is underway. It's importance is rivaling that of insulin.  This is one very powerful hormone !
 
Leptin is released from fat cells and regulates a persons appetite and energy (it's nick named the "I'm Full" hormone).  When a person has higher amounts of fat cells more leptin is released which decreases your appetite and increases metabolism.   When fat cells decrease leptin also is lowered which stimulates your appetite and decreases metabolism.  This helps the body conserve energy during periods of famine while helping the body store energy (fat) during times where food is plentiful.  
 
Although strongly regulated by body fat, Leptin can be effected by other factors.   Some of these factors are sleep, exercise, stress, high blood pressure and inflammatory markers.  
 
When leptin is found outside the normal range it can lead to infertility, obesity, anxiety, depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory related diseases.  
 
It is commonly found in higher levels in women than that of men men and can be monitored via blood tests.  As this is a new hormone it is not commonly tested for.
 
It also is very important in the optimization of your fertility.  Both too little or too much leptin can be associated with infertility.  The body can also become "desensitized" to this hormone.  
 
Leptin can be associated with how well an embryo implants in the uterus, amenorrhea, irregular cycles, egg quality and IVF success rates.  Here are a few examples of how leptin effects fertility.
 
Leptin receptors in the endometrium (uterus lining) plays a major role on how well an embryo will implant.  If these leptin receptors are not present then the embryo will not be able to implant.  This study is listed here and has the fine details of how this process works.  
 
 
Leptin can effect fertility in women who have a low BMI (under weight) and/or are very physical (such as running marathon's).  In this scenario her Leptin levels with drop to very low levels which can stop her cycles.  This is commonly called amenorrhea or irregular long cycles and is explained in more detail here.  
 
On the other end of the spectrum, women who are over weight can also experience problems.  Many women with a high BMI can have very high leptin levels but they have become "desensitized" meaning their body does not react as it should to this hormone.  This creates a poor environment for fertility.  Here is one study discussing this condition.   
 
Leptin can also interfere with IVF success as documented when monitoring both leptin and estrogen levels.  By monitoring these levels they can predict egg quality, higher implantation rates along with pregnancy rates.  Here is a link to this study.  
 
I am excited to watch more research come out regarding this hormone and how we can use this new information to improve our fertility.   Please follow the links provided above to learn more about this amazing hormone and how you can control it to optimize your health and fertility.
 
A few simple ways to help level your leptin levels are:
 - reduce stress
 - get adequate sleep
 - eliminate high fructose foods
 - do not over eat
 - get adequate exercise (but not too much)
 
The above suggestions will help stabilize Leptin levels, insulin levels and blood sugar levels. These will help optimize your fertility as well as increase your overall wellbeing.
 
Best of Health
Ryan
 
 
Dr. Ryan Funk, Dr.TCM
FABORM