Anovulation is the absence of ovulation. Ovulation consists of the release of a mature egg from the woman’s ovary, something that has to occur to achieve pregnancy naturally. If ovulation is irregular, this is called ‘oligovulation’, but if there is an absence directly, it is known as anovulation. Both anovulation and oligovulation are types of ovulatory dysfunction, the most common causes of female infertility occurring in up to 40% of infertile women. In this case, we wanted to delve a little deeper into what causes and how to diagnose and treat anovulation.
Main symptoms and causes of anovulation
- In general, women with anovulation have irregular periods, the first symptom that leads the person to undergo a series of tests to find a solution and diagnose whether we are before a case of anovulation or oligo-ovulation, although it may also directly arrive to having an absent menstrual cycle. In many women, the situation occurs that the cycles are shorter than 21 days or more than 36, but it can also be the case that they are between 21 and 36 days, but their duration varies greatly from one month to another.
- For a fertile couple, the chances of conceiving are 25% each month and, even with regular menstrual cycles, there is no 100% guarantee of being able to get pregnant the first time. In the case of a woman who suffers from anovulation, she cannot get pregnant because there are no eggs to be fertilized. These hormonal irregularities can lead to problems such as a lack of fertile cervical mucus, thinning or thickening of the endometrium, very low levels of progesterone, and a shorter luteal phase (third phase of the menstrual cycle that begins after ovulation).
- As for the causes, the most common is polycystic ovary syndrome, but there are also others such as obesity, being too thin, excessive physical exercise, premature ovarian failure, undergoing major episodes of stress or thyroid problems.
How to diagnose anovulation?
The first thing you have to do to treat this problem is to go to your gynecologist. During the consultation, the doctor will want to know if your cycles are irregular or absent. One of the methods to treat it is to perform a blood test to check hormone levels. Another test that can be part of the diagnosis is to know the levels of progesterone. Your doctor may also request an ultrasound test. With it, they will check the shape and size of the uterus and ovaries, and will also know if they are polycystic.
How to treat anovulation?
- Treatment will depend on the cause of the anovulation. Some cases can be treated with a change in lifestyle or diet. If it is due to low body weight or excessive physical exercise, increasing weight and reducing exercise will help ovulation to restart. The same happens with people who are overweight, with a 10% weight loss, ovulation should start again.
- If the problem is something else (polycystic ovary syndrome or premature ovarian failure), the doctor should monitor it, diagnose the main cause and put a solution with drugs to regulate ovulation.