Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s daily rhythm, telling us when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Ever since we developed electricity and the lightbulb, we have been decreasing our body’s secretions of melatonin by being exposed to bright light after it is dark. Jet lag, shift work and poor vision also affect regular melatonin levels. In Chinese Medicine, melatonin could be likened to the functions of healthy Liver energy.
Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause).
They discussed melatonin at the 20th World Congress on Fertility and Sterility in September 2010 and found that the fertilization rate among women who took 3 mg tablets of melatonin (n = 56) during the second IVF cycle were improved compared with those achieved during their first failed cycle, at 50.0% versus 20.2%. Patients who did not take melatonin (n = 59) experienced no change in fertilization rates.
Melatonin intake also improved pregnancy rates, which were 19.6 percent among women taking supplements compared with 10.2% for the women not taking any.
Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may help strengthen the immune system. This could have an important effect on male fertility.
In an in vitro study involving semen samples taken from 52 men receiving counseling for infertility, semen samples were incubated for 30 minutes with or without 1mm melatonin. Positive correlations were found between melatonin concentrations and sperm concentration, motility and morphology. Additionally, samples incubated with melatonin showed improved percentage of motile and progressively motile cells, and decreased static cells. High endogenous melatonin concentrations enhance sperm quality and short-term in vitro exposure to melatonin improves aspects of sperm motility. (Source: J Pineal Res 2010 Oct 21)