Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

Definition - What does Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) mean?

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is the hormone that kickstarts the ovulation process. When GnRH is released, it triggers the development of two additional hormones: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). GnRH is present in both men and women’s bodies, and impacts both ovarian and testicular function.

FertilitySmarts explains Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

GnRH is produced in the portion of the brain known as the hypothalamus. Once GnRH is developed, it stimulates the pituitary gland to release two additional hormones: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH and LH are essential components of the reproductive system.

Within female bodies, FSH is the hormone that triggers an ovarian follicle, resulting in egg development, while LH triggers the follicle to rupture, releasing the egg for possible fertilization. Within male bodies, GnRH controls the production of sperm in the testes.

GnRH deficiency is a rare genetic disorder known as Kallmann syndrome. Symptoms of Kallman syndrome include:

  • Absent or delayed puberty
  • Absent or delayed sense of smell

Kallman syndrome is typically treated with a combination of hormone replacement therapies and medication. These treatments are utilized to prompt puberty in adolescents, as the body would not naturally develop as a result of the missing hormone. A similar procedure would repeat in early adulthood in order to prompt the reproductive system and treat infertility caused by the syndrome.

GnRH agonists are synthetic (human made) variations of the hormone. These hormones are prescribed as medication or used in the treatment of a variety of conditions. Additionally, as of 2016, study and testing continues for additional purposes. Current usage of GnRH agonists includes:

  • Infertility treatments
  • Cancer treatment
  • Endometriosis treatment
  • Sexual reproductive illnesses and conditions
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