Unless you’re already clear you aren’t ovulating regularly, you’ll start off with a few recommendations for fertility apps, ovulation prediction kits, and lifestyle tips to help you and your partner conceive
Why Aren’t I Ovulating (Regularly or Ever?)
One of the first things any woman (couple) should do before trying to conceive (TTC) is schedule a preconception appointment with their OB/GYN.
Among other things discussed and explored during that exciting visit, your gynecologist will help you identify your ovulatory rhythm and ensure you understand how to accurately time sexual intercourse with the optimal fertile window.
When you realize ovulation isn’t taking place every 21 to 41 days or so, it’s time to check in again with you OB/GYN and determine the reason.
5 Common Issues the Disrupt Regular Ovulation
Here are five of the most common reasons you aren’t ovulating like you should.
1. You have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the most common (and misdiagnosed or overlooked) causes of infertility for women in the U.S. While there is much to be learned about PCOS, we do know that a combination/collaboration of insulin resistance and hormone imbalance contribute to weight gain, inability to lose weight, and the disruption of regular fertility cycles.
As a result, you may have lots of high-quality eggs waiting to mature in the ovaries, all of which aren’t getting the hormonal signal(s) they need to mature and release. Read, Understanding and Treating PCOS, to learn more.
Because being overweight/unable to lose weight is one of the most common symptoms of PCOS, atypical PCOS (skinny PCOS) often goes completely missed. If you’re not overweight, and you aren’t ovulating, we recommend visiting our post, What is Atypical PCOS, in case that fits your scenario.
2. You are underweight and/or over exercising?
Do you struggle with body consciousness and err on the side of “there’s no such thing as too skinny?” Do you have a history of eating disorders? Are you an extreme athlete? If so, you may need to moderate your fitness goals and schedule, and return to a normal BMI, to resume ovulation.
The body can translate being underweight or extreme exercise regimens as “we’re starving and under duress.” It shuts off ovulation as a way to protect you and your potential baby. A healthy BMI for conception is between 18.5 and 29.
3. You have low ovarian reserves
Some women are born with far fewer eggs than the norm and some women’s egg stores are damaged or depleted along the way. This is called low or diminished ovarian reserve, and is caused by a variety of factors ranging from heredity, cancer treatments or other medical treatments/medications, and lifestyle choices.
We can establish an estimate of a woman’s ovarian reserves based on her medical history and symptoms, using AMH and FSH hormone testing, and performing an antral follicle count during a vaginal ultrasound.
4. Early menopause
Similarly, early menopause also affects ovulation. Intermittent or irregular periods are one of the first indications a woman is beginning her journey into menopause. You are only officially in menopause when you’ve ceased menstruating for 12 consecutive months. All of the symptoms and signs of menopause before that point are considered perimenopause or premenopause.
The average age of menopause is about 51 years old, and many women begin experiencing perimenopause in their late-30s and early- to mid-40s, depending on their bodies, and lifestyle. Some women, however, experience perimenopause and menopause significantly earlier than that and considered to be in early menopause. Genetics are a factor as are cancer or the patient’s medical treatment history.
5. Hormone imbalance
There are a range of conditions that can cause hormone imbalance that prevents ovulation. PCOS is an example, as are hormone imbalances linked to being overweight or underweight. Hormones can also go out of whack for other reasons such as thyroid and other medical conditions, medication side effects, chronic stress, inflammation, and the list continues.
There are also environmental factors that play a role in both male and female infertility. We’ve posted 7 Ways You May Be Bringing on Early Menopause, to spread the news about things you should minimize or eliminate to protect your delicate hormone balance.
Regardless of the cause, any irregularity with your periods, menstrual cycle, and ovulation warrant a visit to a physician. Even if you never plan to get pregnant, your overall health and wellbeing depend on a healthy hormone and all-body balance.
Contact us here at the Reproductive Resource Center to learn more.