When you're TTC (Trying To Conceive), one of the most common things to worry about is whether or not you're ovulating correctly. After all, baby-making is a two-person process: sperm and eggs. If one of those elements isn't working correctly, you can have infertility problems.
In this article, we'll look at some common female infertility conditions and how ovulation problems can cause them.
Ovulation Problems and Female Infertility Conditions
Most women have menstrual cycles that range from 28 to 35 days. A woman's irregular cycle is a sign of an underlying problem such as ovulation problems or female infertility conditions.
Ovulation problems can occur when a woman's ovaries don't release an egg each month during ovulation. This can happen if there is an issue with your reproductive system, such as:
- A blockage in one or both Fallopian tubes
- A problem with your hormones (like estrogen)
- Low levels of progesterone (a hormone made by the ovaries)
- Endometriosis (a condition where cells from the uterus lining grow in other parts of the body)
Factors Causing Ovulation Problems
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): This condition can cause irregular ovulation. PCOS usually affects women over 30 and is often accompanied by insulin resistance and obesity.
- Endometriosis: This condition in which tissue from inside the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis may cause ovulatory problems, decreased fertility and pain during menstruation.
- Hormonal imbalances: Many ovarian hormones play a role in regulating ovulation. When there is an imbalance between these hormones, it can lead to problems with ovulation. Some common causes of hormonal imbalances include polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, PCOS and thyroid disorders.
- Uterine abnormalities: Several uterine abnormalities can interfere with ovulation or cause infertility complications in women. These abnormalities include tubal obstruction (blockage of the fallopian tubes), fibroids (benign tumours) and various types of uterine cancer.
- Uterine Fibroids: These are benign growths in the uterine wall that can cause pain during sex, heavy periods, and infertility.
Symptoms of Ovulation Problems
1. Irregular periods - Your periods may be irregular if ovulation is off balance. This can happen for several reasons, including an imbalance in the hormones responsible for menstruation (such as estrogen or progesterone).
2. Lack of fertility - If you've been trying to conceive for a while and are still unable to get pregnant, there may be something wrong with your ovulation. Your doctor can perform various tests to determine the cause of your infertility and recommend treatments if necessary.
3. Spotting between periods - If you have regular periods but suddenly start spotting between them, this could signify that ovulation is off balance. This means your body isn't producing enough estrogen or progesterone, which can interfere with fertility efforts.
Ways to Identify Ovulation Problems
1. Poor cervical mucus quality: One of the first signs that ovulation may be problematic is if your cervical mucus does not have a rich, creamy texture. This can be an indicator of low estrogen levels.
2. Irregular periods: If you have irregular periods, this could indicate that ovulation is not happening as often as it should.
3. Lack of interest in sex: If you find yourself becoming less interested in sex or experiencing difficulty getting aroused, this could signify that ovulation is not occurring as regularly as it should.
4. Pain during intercourse: If you experience pain during intercourse, this could indicate that ovulation is not happening as regularly as it should and could lead to infertility problems.
5. Breast tenderness or discharge: If you experience any breast tenderness or discharge, this could be another sign that ovulation may not occur correctly and could lead to fertility problems.
6. Chart your basal body temperature (BBT): This is the most reliable way to track ovulation. Your BBT will rise approximately 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit every day around the time of your period, which is typically when you're most fertile. If your BBT doesn't rise along with your cycle, it may be an indication that something is wrong with your cycle.
7. Take fertility tests: If you have difficulties getting pregnant, one of the first things to check is if you're ovulating regularly. Many fertility tests are available, so find one that's right for you and that you feel comfortable using. Some fertility tests require a blood sample; others don't.
Treatment for Ovulation Problems
- Fertility drugs - These medications help to stimulate ovulation by increasing the production of hormones in the body. They come in pill form and must be taken daily. Depending on the type of drug, it may also require injections.
- Surgery - This is usually only necessary if fertility drugs are ineffective or other conditions (like polycystic ovarian syndrome) are causing ovulation problems. Surgery can sometimes involve removing a fallopian tube section leading to the uterus.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) - IUI is a procedure in which sperm is placed into the woman's uterus through a catheter inserted through her cervix.
- Clomiphene citrate (Clomid) - Clomid is a medication that helps to improve ovulation by blocking an enzyme that usually stops eggs from being released from the ovaries. It comes as an oral tablet and should be taken daily for four weeks before expecting to start seeing results.
If you're having trouble getting pregnant, there's a good chance your ovulation problems are at the root of the problem. Ovulation problems can be caused by environmental factors (like excessive stress or smoking) to medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Our team of experts at Apollo Fertility can help you figure out what is causing the issues and provide a plan to help get your fertility back on track. We understand that fertility is an important part of life, and we're here to help make that happen for you.
Many different things can cause ovulation problems. One of the most common is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods and make it difficult for a woman to ovulate. Other causes of ovulation problems include: - premature menopause - endometriosis - uterine fibroids - thyroid disorders - pituitary tumours
The most common symptom of ovulation problems is irregular or absent periods. However, you may also experience other symptoms, such as: • Abnormal vaginal bleeding • Pain during sex • Pelvic pain or bloating • Breast tenderness • Hot flashes or night sweats
There are many possible causes of ovulation problems. Common causes include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure (POF), and thyroid disorders. Less common causes include pituitary disorders, medications, and excessive exercise.
Anovulation is often diagnosed by tracking your menstrual cycle and monitoring your basal body temperature (BBT). Your BBT will rise slightly when you ovulate. If your BBT stays elevated for more than 18 days in a row, likely, you're not ovulating. Blood tests can also be used to check hormone levels and look for other possible causes of your symptoms.
There are many different treatments for ovulation problems, depending on the cause. If the problem is due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), treatment may include clomiphene citrate or letrozole to stimulate ovulation or metformin to improve insulin resistance. If low levels of progesterone are causing the problem, your doctor may prescribe supplemental progesterone. If a thyroid disorder is a cause, treatment will focus on correcting the thyroid problem.