What is anovulation and an anovulatory cycle?
The anovulatory cycle is when the ovaries do not release an egg during a woman’s menstrual cycle. An anovulatory cycle is a menstrual cycle in which there is no ovulation. This means that an egg is not released from the ovaries and cannot be fertilized by sperm. This can make it difficult to become pregnant.
Menstruations throughout female infertility involve delicate hormone movements in women's bodies and can therefore sometimes cause hormone imbalances.
Hormone levels may rise or decrease during ovulation. In order to be fertilized, the ovaries are released and are used in the process of giving birth. In some menstrual cycles, eggs don't grow, and women don't fertilize. It's called anovulation.
Anovulation is the failure to release an egg from the ovary and it’s a common cause of infertility. An anovulatory cycle is where ovulation doesn’t occur and as a result, pregnancy can’t happen.
The role of luteinizing hormone in ovulation
Ovulation begins to happen when the hypothalamus (a gland in the brain) secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which then causes the pituitary gland (another gland in the brain) to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH stimulates the woman's eggs (follicles) that then make the hormone estrogen, which builds the uterine lining.
The role of follicle stimulating hormone when ovulating
Ovulation begins to happen when the hypothalamus (a gland in the brain) secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which then causes the pituitary gland (another gland in the brain) to release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH stimulates the woman's eggs (follicles) that then make the hormone estrogen, which builds the uterine lining. Next comes the release of LH (“LH surge”), which serves to release the egg from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. At this point, fertilization
Next comes the release of LH (“LH surge”) luteinizing hormone, which serves to release the egg from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. At this point, fertilization by the male's sperm must take
What causes an anovulatory cycle?
There are many different causes of an anovulatory cycle in women, but the most common is an imbalance in the levels of certain hormones in the body.
Other possible causes include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid problems
- Premature menopause
- Excessive exercise
- Eating disorders
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to know whether you’re ovulating each cycle. If you’re not ovulating, you won’t be able to get pregnant. There are several ways to test for ovulation, including at-home ovulation predictor kits, basal body temperature charts, a continuous core body temperature fertility monitor (OvuSense), and blood tests with your healthcare professional.
Why do anovulatory cycles happen?
Anovulatory cycles are usually accompanied by irregular menstruations and no period. Sometimes medication or conditions that cause hormone imbalances may be involved in ovulation. Other causes can be attributed to low body weight to very low body weight.
Often anovulatory period occurs and women return to normal uterine cycles. Sometimes there are acute problems. During anovulation, women cannot get pregnant.
Medications that can affect your menstrual cycle
- blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin.
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- thyroid medications.
- epilepsy drugs.
- chemotherapy drugs.
Conditions that can affect your menstrual cycle
Menstrual cycles can also sometimes stop as a result of a medical condition, such as heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes, an overactive thyroid, or premature menopause.
- Sudden weight loss
- Being overweight
- Doing too much exercise
- Hormonal birth control pill
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Anovulatory bleeding
What does it mean to have irregular periods?
1) You have irregular periods if the length of your menstrual cycle (the gap between your periods starting) keeps changing.
2) Your periods may come early or late.
3) The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, although it's normal for it to be a bit shorter or longer than this.
After puberty, many women develop a regular cycle with a similar length of time between periods. But it's not uncommon for it to vary by a few days each time.
Common causes include:
- Puberty – your periods might be irregular for the first year or two
- The start of the menopause (usually between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can come earlier)
- Early pregnancy
- Some types of hormonal contraception – such as the hormonal birth control pill or intrauterine systems (IUS)
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise or stress
- medical conditions – such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a problem with your thyroid
When to see a doctor
You don't need to get medical advice if you have always had slightly irregular periods or you're still going through puberty.
But see a doctor or healthcare professional if:
- Your periods suddenly become irregular and you're under 45
- You have periods more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days
- Your periods last longer than 7 days
- There's a big difference (at least 20 days) between your shortest and longest menstrual cycle
- You have irregular periods and you're struggling to get pregnant
There might not be anything wrong, but it's a good idea to get checked out to see what the cause might be.
You might be referred to a specialist called a gynecologist / OBGYN if you need any tests or treatment.
What are the treatment options for anovulatory cycles?
If you’re not ovulating or if you have an irregular cycle, there are treatment options available. These include medication to induce ovulation, surgery to correct any anatomical problems, or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
If you’re trying to conceive and you think you may be anovulatory, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out the cause of your anovulation and recommend the best treatment option for you.
How are anovulatory cycles treated?
Chronic anovulation is frequently corrected with fertility drugs in a process called ovulation induction. Ovulation induction is also performed in patients who are ovulatory to increase the chance of pregnancy. Most pregnancies occur in three cycles of a particular therapy.
Commonly prescribed drugs include clomiphene citrate, human chorionic gonadotropin, follicle-stimulating hormone, and human menopausal gonadotropin.
Advice from us
This is an exciting time and it can also be a very stressful one as well. Our advice is to get as much information as you can to help increase your chances and this includes tracking your cycle.
It could be that you ARE ovulating, you just aren't ovulating when think you are and perhaps missing your window for trying to get pregnant.
OvuSense is the most clinically proven method to track your cycle and know for sure if you are ovulating. Seek professional medical advice if you are unsure.
Your journey to conception will be unique to you. We hope you find joy in these early and exciting times and wish you every success on your fertility journey.