Women who are having difficulty getting pregnant may be having problems with their menstrual and ovulation cycles.
In order for you to get pregnant, you need to have healthy eggs that are available for fertilization by your partner’s sperm.
If you’ve been trying for a while now to conceive without getting pregnant and you have an irregular or nonexistent menstrual cycle you may have a disorder known as anovulation.
Anovulation can affect from 6 to 15 percent of women who are of childbearing years.
When you’re trying hard to get pregnant and start a family it can be frustrating and alarming when month after month passes by and you still haven’t conceived.
Finding answers to why you’re not conceiving is imperative if you’re going to treat your infertility. Anovulation is one of the first factors you should examine.
What is Anovulation?
Anovulation affects the production of your reproductive eggs. The end result of this condition is that if there are no eggs to be released when you’re ovulating then you’ll most likely be unable to conceive.
When you have an anovulatory cycle you’ll still have your period but your ovaries won’t be releasing any eggs. This is what is naturally supposed to happen when you reach menopause.
When it happens before menopause it becomes a fertility factor.
Causes of Anovulation that Affect Fertility
There are a number of causes of anovulation such as too much exercise and a poor diet. However, the number one cause of anovulation is hormonal imbalances.
If you have too much or too little of a particular hormone, your brain may not stimulate the ovaries to ovulate.
Some of the issues that can lead to hormonal imbalances include:
- Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia
- Fast weight loss
There may be some cases where there are underlying medical reasons why you’re not ovulating.
- Thyroid disorders
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Problems with the pituitary gland
- Liver disease
It’s important that you work with a fertility specialist to rule out some of the above conditions before you start any hormone therapy to treat anovulation.
How to Determine if You’re Ovulating
Most women who ovulate regularly will also have regular periods. This is usually once every 28 days but anywhere between 21 to 35 days is considered normal.
Women who are diagnosed with anovulation will have no period at all or they may have a very, very irregular period.
It’s important that you monitor your menstrual cycle as well as your ovulation cycle to determine if you’re ovulating.
Some of the signs that you’re experiencing anovulation include the following:
- Irregular periods
- No period at all
- Heavy periods
- Few if any PMS symptoms
- Irregular BBT (basal body temperature)
Keeping track of your BBT and your menstrual cycle is your first step in diagnosing if anovulation may be a factor in your fertility.
Treating Anovulation so You Can Get Pregnant
Once you’ve tracked your menstrual and ovulation cycles your doctor may take some blood tests to check on certain hormones, such as FSH and LH. If there are any hormonal imbalances you may be started on medication.
Other tests for causes of infertility can include pelvic exams, ultrasound, and laparoscopy to see if there are any physical abnormalities in your reproductive system.
Treatment for anovulation can be one or more of the following:
- Eating a nutritious and balanced diet. This can help you maintain a healthy weight which is crucial in keeping your hormones in balance.
- Reducing exercise if you’re over-exercising. Too much exercise can lower the levels of some hormones.
- Reducing stress. Stress can play a major role in your overall general health.
- Taking medications. Drugs such as clomiphene or gonadotropin can help to trigger ovulation.
- Taking medication to induce menstruation.
The first step in dealing with infertility is charting your reproductive cycles and looking for any abnormalities in your menstrual and ovulation cycles.
Should You Use Fertility Drugs to get Pregnant?
If your doctor is unable to treat your anovulation, it may be impossible for you to become pregnant. You need to ovulate if you’re going to conceive naturally.
Fertility drugs are often used to stimulate ovulation. Clomid is one such drug that is used to stop the effects of estrogen in your body.
When estrogen levels drop your body is then able to produce two hormones that are necessary to trigger ovulation.
These two hormones are FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone).
One of the problems with using fertility drugs is that they often result in multiple eggs being released and therefore multiple births.
This can put your pregnancy at risk. If you decide to undergo certain infertility treatments, such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) your fertility specialist will be able to help you make informed choices about what medication to use and what the specific side effects will be.