Anovulation – Causes, Signs, and Treatment
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Keeping track of your menstrual cycle is important for you, especially if you’re looking to get pregnant. Keeping a record of your menstrual cycle will help you track the days on which you’re ovulating the most. And having sex with your partner on these days will increase your chances of conception. But you should be aware of every little detail about your reproductive health that can become an issue in your journey to parenthood. Anovulation, for instance, is something most women are not aware of and it can be a potential cause of infertility. Read on to learn more about anovulation, its causes, and treatment options.
What Is an Anovulatory Cycle?
As per the name, anovulation means unsuccessful ovulation. For ovulation to take place, the ovaries need to release an egg. This results in stimulation of the progesterone levels, which ultimately helps a woman maintain regularity in her periods. But when anovulation takes place, the reduced progesterone ends up in excessive bleeding, which could be misinterpreted as a period. But it actually isn’t.
What Causes Anovulation?
The reasons for anovulation can span across multiple factors that can be biological as well as lifestyle influenced.
- Being overweight bordering on obesity or even obese
- Being underweight at a level that is too low
- Undertaking extensive and extreme amounts of exercise
- Suffering from a condition called hyperprolactinemia
- Suffering from possibly premature failure of the ovaries
- Reduced levels of ovarian reserves that could cause perimenopause
- An erratic function of the thyroid, leading to hyperthyroidism
- Suffering from a lot of stress and anxiety on a continued basis
What Are the Symptoms of Anovulation?
Some of the signs of anovulation are as follows:
- Irregularity in your menstrual cycle, which might even occur two times in a single month.
- The quantity of blood is comparatively lower than you see in your usual periods.
- No pain or cramping during menstruation.
Although these could be signs of anovulation, they could also indicate temporary conditions caused by disturbed hormone levels which could reset themselves over time. Many women fail to understand these signs and tend to consider them as normal. It is only when they make an attempt to get pregnant that they realize that they were never ovulating in the first place.
How Does Anovulation Cause Infertility?
Even while ovulating, the chances of getting pregnant are approximately around 25 per cent or so. So when anovulation takes place, those chances drop further since the egg that requires being fertilized is absent. With irregular ovulation, this becomes even difficult to manage since sometimes you may ovulate and sometimes you may not.
Furthermore, late ovulation results in the production of eggs that are not always conducive to be fertilized. This primarily occurs due to erratic hormone levels in your body. That further results in absence of cervical mucus that is fertile enough, an improper texture of the endometrium layer which is responsible to hold the fertilized egg, reduced levels of progesterone leading to further complications, and so on.
How Is Anovulation Diagnosed?
- The very step that a doctor takes in diagnosing anovulation is making a note of the frequency of menstrual cycles. If those cycles are not regular or completely absent, they highly indicate an improper functioning of the ovulating processes. There might be a need to monitor your base body temperature for a couple of months.
- Blood samples might be taken to observe the levels of hormones. Doctors might conduct a progesterone blood test on day 21. Ideally, ovulation results in a rise of progesterone. If that fails to take place, it signifies an absence of ovulation.
- If your doctor suspects PCOS, anovulation could also be a result of that. An ultrasound is generally undertaken in such a case. This gives your doctor a good idea of the physical shape of the uterus as well as the ovaries. By observing for signs of a polycystic nature in the ovaries, your doctor might concur if the anovulation is a result of it.
- In certain cases, doctors make use of several ultrasounds spanning over a couple of weeks. This is required for an additional investigation that helps track the development of the follicle and check why ovulation fails.
How Is Anovulation Treated?
As with any treatment methodology, the reasons behind anovulation will govern what steps will need to be taken.
- At times, the reason for anovulation is simply poor lifestyle choices. This could require a change in diet to ensure health stays optimal. For underweight women, going for a proper diet plan that focuses on gaining good healthy weight is necessary. For overweight women, a few restrictions can help bring down the weight to a point where she may start ovulating again. For women extremely conscious about their health and body, bringing down the fitness regimen a notch could help trigger ovulation, too.
- The medication comes next – most of the medicines that are recommended for treating anovulation fall into the category of fertilization medication. The popular one among these is Clomid. This drug is known to be effective in nearly 80% of the cases, where ovulation has begun, and 45% of those cases have ended up getting pregnant within 6 months of continued treatment.
- If PCOS has been determined as the culprit, there are specific medicines that are insulin-sensitizing that assist in initiating ovulation. Most of the times metformin is recommended in these cases and suggested to be consumed for about half a year. If pregnancy still doesn’t occur after this, some other medicines can be combined to increase chances of boosting fertility. In some cases, doctors have recommended using letrozole. Though this is primarily associated with cancer treatment, it is known to trigger ovulation in PCOS-ridden women, too.
- The reason for anovulation could finally be a result of structural problems such as early failure of ovaries or a reduced number in them, too. Drugs fail to work in this regard and continued attempts might at times work in getting pregnant. If the eggs themselves seem to be a problem, IVF might be an option to be undertaken.
While attempting to get pregnant, chronic anovulation could be quite an obstacle preventing you from enjoying the joys of motherhood. By making changes in your lifestyle and taking the necessary treatments, you can work your way out from the rut of anovulation and find yourself with the right sign on the pregnancy stick within a year.
Also Read: How to Get Pregnant with Anovulation