Is Melatonin an Ovulation-Friendly Sleep Aid?
Evidence shows that your fertility can be affected if you don’t get enough sleep. This is because your sleep cycle has a direct impact on your hormone levels.
You might have trouble sleeping for a myriad of reasons, and if you’re trying to conceive, your lack of sleep won’t make things easier for you. And if you’re planning to take a sleep aid, you want to make sure you take a product that won’t negatively affect your fertility.
But first things first! Before taking any product or medication, always talk to your doctor. They know your medical history and are, therefore, in a better position to advise you.
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What is Melatonin?
This hormone is produced by various tissues in the body, although the main source is the pineal gland in the brain. It is also synthesized in laboratories, and it is available as pills or in forms that you can place under your tongue.
Melatonin has been traditionally used as a sleep aid in people who experience jet lag or those who have hectic work schedules (shift-work disorder).
Additionally, it is used to help people who are unable to fall asleep, persons with insomnia associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and children with developmental disorders (such as autism, cerebral palsy, and mental disabilities) who have trouble sleeping.
The hormone is also used as a sleep aid in people who experience trouble sleeping after discontinuing certain medications that affect the central nervous system and to decrease the side effects of smoking cessation.
Here are some interesting facts:
- If you’re trying to conceive, it is advisable that you get eight hours of dark every night at about the same time. This will help your body to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and melatonin levels.
- Supplementation with melatonin helps women undergoing in vitro fertilization have a healthier developing embryo and a better pregnancy outcome.
- Maternal melatonin crosses the placenta and gets into the fetal circulation. Even before the fetal brain is fully developed, it already has melatonin receptors. The hormone helps the developing fetus to start forming its own circadian rhythm.
Still worried that melatonin is not ovulation-friendly?
Will Melatonin Disrupt Your Ovulation?
This is a question that comes up too often in forums. While some women have reported positive outcomes when using melatonin for inducing sleep, others have reported that the drug messed up their cycles.
To be more specific, some women have reported having positive ovulation predictor test results but didn’t experience the typical biphasic shift in basal body temperature.
How is this possible when there is evidence that melatonin detoxifies reactive species and limits oxidative stress?
Let me explain.
Your body produces reactive oxygen species locally to help during follicle rupture. When you ovulate, one of your follicles ruptures, releasing a mature egg.
However, an excess amount of reactive oxygen species can cause oxidative stress. These free radicals can damage your egg. You can’t have a well-developed embryo if your body doesn’t produce high-quality eggs. Thus, your body needs to keep working to maintain physiological levels of reactive oxygen species.
How can melatonin help?
Melatonin is a free radical scavenger, and the products that are formed when melatonin detoxifies reactive species are also powerful scavengers of reactive oxygen species.
If melatonin can help you have high-quality eggs, how does it disrupt ovulation?
In fact, melatonin may produce side effects that affect your reproductive hormone levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, changes in the levels of these hormones affect ovulation and menstruation and may complicate your ability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.
Other researchers went further and found that when melatonin was administered at very high doses, in combination with progesterone, it had the ability to suppress ovulation, possibly by interfering with luteinizing hormone release.
What does this say?
Melatonin can disrupt ovulation if taken at high doses. Which brings us to this…always talk to your doctor before taking any drug.
Can Melatonin Affect Your Libido?
Although melatonin affects reproductive physiology, experimental data on melatonin and acute sexual responses in humans are lacking.
Some sources claim that melatonin can inhibit sexual drive, especially in people who take the supplement in high doses. However, evidence of such a melatonin effect in humans is limited to anecdotal reports, and it would be interesting to have concrete data on the effects of melatonin on the sexual drive in humans.
What scientists know for sure is that low doses of melatonin improve or restore parameters of sexual behavior in normal, stressed, or impotent experimental animals.
Can Melatonin Affect Your Menstrual Cycles?
Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center reported that melatonin affects a woman’s menstrual cycle, including the timing and release of female reproductive hormones.
Additionally, melatonin has been found to control when women stop menstruating and enter menopause.
Therefore, if you plan to take melatonin, expect the supplement to affect the onset of your periods and the regularity of your menstrual cycles.
What is the Appropriate Dosage of Melatonin as a Sleep Aid?
The dosage of melatonin varies depending on the indication and mode of administration.
In general, the recommended dosage in people who have sleep-wake cycle disturbances is 2–12 mg. The drug should be taken at bedtime and can be used for up to four weeks. Note that the dosage is lower for blind people with sleep disorders.
The recommended dosage in persons who have trouble falling asleep is 0.3–5 mg daily, whereas those who experience insomnia should have 2–3 mg of melatonin before bedtime.
Is Melatonin Safe?
When used short-term, melatonin is likely safe for most persons, irrespective of the mode of administration (oral, parenteral, or topical).
So long as you take the drug as prescribed by a healthcare professional, you should be fine. It can be safely taken for up to two years in some persons. However, like all medications, side effects should be expected.
Common Side Effects
- Daytime sleepiness
- Short-term symptoms of depression
Precautions to Take
- Avoid driving or operating machinery for four to five hours after taking the drug.
- If you suspect you’re pregnant, take a pregnancy test to confirm your suspicions. If your test is positive, you should stop taking the drug.
- If you have bleeding disorders, you should consult your doctor before taking melatonin because the drug can make bleeding worse.
- Melatonin can interact with some blood pressure medications and make raise blood pressure levels. You shouldn’t use it if you’re taking an anti-hypertensive drug(s).
- You should control your blood sugar if you’re a diabetic patient, as the drug can increase blood sugar levels.
- Melatonin can worsen symptoms of depression, so you should watch out if you suffer from clinical depression.
What about Melatonin and Male Fertility?
Since it takes two to baby dance, I can’t wrap this up without talking about men.
Melatonin has also been reported to affect male reproductive functions. The Mayo Clinic showed that the supplement could decrease sperm count and affect sperm motility.
However, more research is needed to determine whether melatonin administration affects erectile parameters and sexual functions.
While melatonin and other drugs such as diphenhydramine are generally safe based on clinical studies, you can use natural remedies such as chamomile tea as an alternative to sleep aid drugs.
Other drinks such as coconut water and almond milk have been reported to have a sleep-promoting effect. Additionally, you spray lavender oil, which has been associated with improved sleep quality, on your pillow just before bed. You should be wary of non-regulated sleep aids that are labeled as natural.
If you can’t regulate your sleep patterns by waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, you can try to achieve restfulness by adopting healthy eating habits. Try to avoid any foods that can cause discomfort or heartburn, such as spicy foods, fizzy drinks, beans, and fried foods.
Although it is important that you stay hydrated during the day, you should avoid drinking a lot of in the evening to avoid having to wake up and urinate in the middle at night!
Finally, remember that you can influence your circadian rhythms and melatonin production by sleeping in a dark environment when it’s dark outside and waking up when there’s daylight. If possible, try to create a routine that permits you to rest in a cozy, relaxing, and dark bedroom as night sets in.
Also, avoid lights from electronic devices (mobile phones, tablets, computer screens, television screens, etc.). Because you need total darkness, invest in blackout curtains to prevent outside light from coming in through your window(s).
Want to get on top of your sleep habits? Read how this tracker can help you.
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