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In order to understand the causes of infertility and the role modern infertility treatment plays in assisting conception, it is useful to look at the natural process - a woman's ovulatory cycle and the production of sperm in the male - and the hormones that play a major role in those processes.
The gonadotropins are hormones that primarily affect the ovaries and the testes. They regulate the development and hormonesecreting functions of these organs and contribute to the production of sperm in the male and to the development and maturation of eggs (oocytes) in the female.
Three gonadotropins are essential to reproduction: human follicle stimulating hormone (hFSH), human luteinizing hormone (hLH) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). FSH and LH are secreted by the pituitary gland situated beneath the brain. Their secretion is controlled by another hormone, the gonadotropin- releasing hormone (GnRH) produced by the hypothalamus. hCG is primarily produced by the placenta following successful mplantation, and plays a role in maintaining pregnancy.

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