Prostaglandins

Definition - What does Prostaglandins mean?

Prostaglandins are biochemical substances that produce effects like hormones, but their signals to the body are restricted to the area where they were produced.

In females, prostaglandins can cause uterine muscles to contract and blood vessels in the uterine lining to constrict. This normally occurs during menstruation and labor. Severe menstrual cramps may indicate an excess level of prostaglandins. in addition, abnormally high levels of prostaglandins are common in women with endometriosis.

FertilitySmarts explains Prostaglandins

The uterine lining (the endometrium) normally produces prostaglandins, and women with endometriosis have excess endometrium growing in inappropriate areas, such as on the ovaries, rectum, bladder, or other areas inside the pelvis.

The endometrium produces prostaglandin, which causes blood vessels to constrict and the smooth muscle of the uterus to contract. This causes the uterine lining to slough off during menstruation. The disintegrating endometrial cells produce more prostaglandins, intensifying these effects.

It is thought by some that the increased prostaglandin production caused by endometriosis may therefore precipitate menstruation at an inappropriate time, causing miscarriage. While this idea has not found much direct support in the research, it is true that endometriosis is often associated with difficulty conceiving and infertility.

Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can block the production of prostaglandins. Certain NSAIDs such as indomethacin may be given to stop pre-term labor, thus preventing pregnancy loss.

A great many natural methods to reduce prostaglandins have been suggested, but many of these claims are not well supported in the medical literature. There is some research to suggest that magnesium and vitamin E may reduce prostaglandin levels, and omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to prolong gestation and decrease pre-term birth, probably by decreasing prostaglandin levels. If a woman has high prostaglandin levels that are thought to contribute to her infertility, these supplements may help to lower her prostaglandins.

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