PCOS Review Newsletter #68

1) Melatonin Supports Your Ovaries

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. Melatonin helps to manage the day-night rhythms of your body. It also is a powerful protector of DNA and other cell components because of its antioxidant characteristics. Melatonin is produced primarily at night when it is dark and you are asleep.

So how does melatonin relate to PCOS and your ovaries? There's not much research on this topic.

However, we uncovered some new research from Yamaguchi University in Japan. The doctors reviewed the medical literature and concluded: "Melatonin could become an important medication for improving ovarian function and oocytes [egg] quality, and open new opportunities for the management of several ovarian diseases."

It appears that melatonin has a direct effect on the ovaries and it is known that ovarian cells contain receptors for the melatonin hormone. In other words, melatonin appears to play a role in the function of your ovaries. That role appears to be protective.

There is one report from the Madonna della Grazie Heallth Institute in Italy that is interesting. It says, according to their study, that treatment with 3 mg. of melatonin for 6 months "restores menstrual cyclicity and fertility" in women who were close to menopause. They did not study younger women.

The researchers also reported "a remarkable and highly significant improvement of thyroid function". Remember that impaired thyroid function is a common feature of PCOS, so melatonin could also be helpful for your thyroid gland.

But here's a two-fold problem.

1) First, it's not clear whether you are producing an optimal amount of melatonin at night when it is dark. If you stay up late at night with the lights on, or if your sleep quality is poor, you could be manufacturing less melatonin that you need. As we reported in the last issue, women with polycystic ovary syndrome are less likely to have quality sleep.

2) Second, there is some evidence that you could be excreting more melatonin than you should. It seems that high testosterone levels are connected to the loss of melatonin. Of course, some women with PCOS tend to have excessively high testosterone levels. PCOS is a complex condition with multiple possible hormone imbalances contributing to it. It may be that in certain stages of the development of PCOS, testosterone levels are high and in other phases of the condition, the opposites is true.

In summary, this is some exciting new research information about melatonin as a hormone that may play a supporting role in maintaining ovarian health. There is more work that needs to be done before its role is completely understood.

Therefore, even though you can obtain melatonin in many retail outlets, we suggest you consult with a licensed health professional about the advisability of taking supplemental melatonin.

Tamura H et al Melatonin and the ovary: physiological and pathophysiological implications, Fertil Steril. 2008 Sep 17. [Epub ahead of print]
Bellipanni G et al Effects of melatonin in perimenopausal and menopausal women: our personal experience, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1057:393-402
Luboshitzky R et al Urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin excretion in hyperandrogenic women: the effect of cyproterone acetate-ethinyl estradiol treatment, Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2004 Feb;112(2):102-7

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