When The Body Doesn’t Ovulate

To get pregnant, a woman must ovulate. However, sometimes an anovulatory cycle can take place, meaning an egg is not released during ovulation. About 30% of fertility problems are due to anovulation, and approximately 1 in 10 women will experience this problem at some point during the reproductive years. Is pregnancy still possible for women with this frustrating diagnosis?

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What causes anovulation?

Some women are more prone to anovulation than others based on certain risk factors. A woman’s body weight is a significant risk factor for the condition. Obese and underweight women can both experience a disturbance in ovulation. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), pituitary gland dysfunction, and hypothyroidism can also interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency or diminished ovarian reserve are also less likely to ovulate. Too much stress or exercise can impact hormones responsible for ovulation, such as follicle-stimulation hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), making pregnancy less likely. Older women may also be less likely to ovulate as fertility declines with age.

Diagnosing the condition

An irregular period is the main indicator that anovulation may be occurring. Women who have tried to get pregnant without success may also be tested for this condition. Blood work to test prolactin, progesterone, and thyroid levels as well as an ultrasound can help to diagnose anovulation.

Encouraging ovulation

Managing anovulation depends on the specific cause. Various treatments are available, including medications, taken by mouth or injection, to encourage ovulation. Lifestyle changes can also help and usually involve getting to a healthy weight, reducing stress, and limiting physical activity.

Pursuing fertility treatment

If medications are not enough to help achieve a pregnancy, there is still hope. Fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), can help. IVF is the process of fertilizing eggs with sperm outside the woman’s body. After fertilization, the embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus. IUI allows the sperm to be transferred directly into the uterus with the help of a thin tube. Many women with anovulation disorders have conceived with the help of fertility treatments.

Trust the journey

Anovulation can be a frustrating and emotional experience for women, especially those trying to become pregnant. If medications or lifestyle changes fail to work, doctors can still help with fertility treatments. A single egg is all that is needed to create a healthy pregnancy and grow a family.

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