In order to become pregnant, you first must ovulate. It is normal to assume that having a period is a sign that you’re ovulating. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case because it is possible to have your period without releasing an egg. This condition is known anovulation, a condition where the ovaries do not release an egg during the normal menstrual cycle.
Some common signs of anovulation include:
- An irregular menstrual cycle which comes twice in a month or once in several months.
- Spotting/ light menstruation
- An absence of menstrual pain (particularly in women that have a history of menstrual pain)
- An absence of breast pain or tenderness
These signs aren’t necessarily all displayed simultaneously and are not exclusive to anovulation. If you’ve got very irregular periods and would like to know when you’re ovulating, it’s important you get an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit; this kit will measure the level of hormones in your urine to determine when you’re ovulating.
What causes anovulation?
There are a number of possible causes for anovulation
Birth Control: Some birth control methods contain hormones that are designed to stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy. These drugs interfere with the ovaries’ ability to grow and release an egg. Each method of birth control stops ovulation differently it’s important to discuss birth control options with a health care provider.
Side effects of drugs: Certain medications can still stop ovulation. Many over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen are good examples. A study suggested that NSAIDs can cause anovulation after taking them for just 10 days.
Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy, radiation and cancer drugs can cause permanent damage to the ovaries.
Steroids: Steroids are a type of hormone that can reduce inflammation, however, they can interfere with the hormones needed for ovulation.
Health conditions that affect the thyroid, adrenal, hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These glands play a key role in maintaining the hormonal balance vital for an ovulation to occur
Sudden weight loss/weight gain: Excessive weight gain can disrupt ovulation as the hormone estrogen relies upon a healthy body weight for normal levels.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Premature menopause: Some women who are experiencing early menopause can be treated with medications to stimulate ovulation and achieve pregnancy.
If I’m anovulatory, can I still get pregnant?
If you’re trying to conceive and have been diagnosed with anovulation. There are fertility treatments available to trigger the ovaries into releasing an egg.
How Is Anovulation Treated?
Fertility drugs such as Clomid® pills or HCG injections may be used to treat anovulation caused by hormone imbalances. On the other hand, if the anovulation is caused by high prolactin levels, dopamine agonists may be used. Anovulatory women who are either obese or underweight may benefit from adopting a healthier lifestyle that involves regular exercise and eating balanced meals. The overall goal should be to adopt a healthy lifestyle that will bring about the greatest reproductive health. There are natural alternatives to Clomid that can equally help you ensure a regular cycle. These include the following:
- Eat a healing diet
- Vitamin E-rich foods
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Exercise regularly
- Implement a stress reduction plan
- Practice fertility massage
- Consider supportive fertility herbs like Maca
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Maca promotes hormonal balance overall, is nourishing to the endocrine system, which controls hormone function. Maca has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac for vitality and fertility by both genders. Maca root is generally consumed dried, in powder form, capsules and as a liquid extract.