Anovulation

Periods can often be very troublesome, and some women suffer relentlessly when it is their "time of the month." After all, periods cause backaches, mood swings, and, of course, those awful menstrual cramps. But menstruation is a necessary part of being a woman; it is what allows you to conceive a child. Some women, however, suffer from a disorder in which they do not release viable eggs during their menstrual period. This can cause serious problems and often makes it difficult for women to become pregnant.

 

What is Anovulation?
Anovulation is a condition that affects between 6% and 15% of all women of childbearing age. It is a disorder of the menstrual cycle, in which a woman does not release an egg for fertilization every month.

Typically, your body sends specific hormonal signals that trigger ovulation once every month. An egg is released from your ovaries and into your fallopian tubes, where it can be fertilized. Women who are anovulatory though, do not release an egg every month. Instead, they may ovulate intermittently throughout the year, or they may not ovulate at all. Anovulation is especially worrying for some women as it can signal an underlying fertility or reproductive disorder.

Who Suffers from Anovulation?
Anovulation can affect any woman of childbearing age. However, there are some risk factors that increase your chances of suffering from anovulation. These risk factors include:

 

  • having PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • suffering from hursutism, or other hormonal disorders
  • extreme weight loss or obesity

 

What are the Symptoms of Anovulation
The symptoms of anovulation can sometimes be difficult to recognize. After all, women rarely experience any overt signs of ovulation. However, there are a few symptoms that may indicate that you are suffering from the condition. These symptoms include:

 

 

What Causes Anovulation?
Anovulation is the result of hormonal imbalances within the body. Your hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, help to trigger your body's reproductive cycle, including ovulation and menstruation. Without the proper levels of these hormones, your reproductive system can be thrown off course, preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg every month. There are a variety of different factors that can contribute to a hormone imbalance including:

 

  • breastfeeding
  • weight gain or loss
  • too much exercise
  • extreme stress
  • frequent travel
  • eating disorders, like anorexia or bulimia

 

Complications of Anovulation
Anovulation can result in a number of health complications, especially if it is left untreated. An imbalance of hormones can sometimes result in the loss of certain sexual features, including menstruation and ovulation. Chronic anovulation can also lead to partial or complete infertility. Many women who suffer from anovulation find it difficult, or even impossible, to become pregnant.

Diagnosing Anovulation
If you suspect that you may be suffering from anovulation, it is important that you visit with your health care provider. She can perform certain tests that may help to discern whether or not you are ovulating.

Your health care provider may first ask you to record your daily BBT for a period of up to a month or more. Irregular or abnormal measurements may indicate that ovulation is not taking place when it should. Your health care provider will likely perform a series of blood tests in order to measure the levels of specific hormones in your body. These exams will test for hormones that play a specific role in the ovulatory process, including:

 

  • luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • thyroid-stimulating hormone

 

If you are experiencing problems with your menstrual period, your health care provider may also perform a pelvic examination and an ultrasound. A pelvic examination is performed at your local health clinic and involves manual palpation of your abdomen to check the size and shape of your uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create a picture of the internal organs in your pelvic cavity. Your health care provider can analyze this image for any changes to your reproductive organs.

Treating Anovulation
It is important that the underlying cause of anovulation be treated, in order to restore proper ovulation. Lifestyle factors such as nutrition, stress, and exercise, may be contributing to your hormone imbalance, and these factors must be assessed during proper treatment. Easing up on exercising or eating a healthy balanced diet can go a long way to helping treat anovulation in some patients.

You may also be treated using a number of different medical approaches. Medicines to induce ovulation can be used, especially if you are actively trying to become pregnant. Fertility drugs like Clomid and Pergonal are often used to treat anovulation. If your anovulation is accompanied by amenorrhea, your health care provider may try to normalize your menstrual period by prescribing Depo Provera, a medication that can help to trigger menstruation.

Chat with other women about Anovulation and other menstrual problems in our menstruation forum.

 

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