Anovulation – What is it and how can it be treated?

What does anovulation mean?

Anovulation is when your ovaries have not released an egg in a given cycle. It could occur as a one off but if you are not ovulating regularly then this is a serious hindrance to getting pregnant and you should seek help from your GP.

Why am I not ovulating?

There are many causes of anovulation such as weight loss, being overweight, exercising too intensely, hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin levels), premature ovarian failure, low ovarian reserve, thyroid problems and being very stressed. More often than not, the root cause of anovulation leads to a lower level of estrogen, which is an essential hormone needed to induce ovulation. Often you will never really know why you didn’t ovulate on a certain cycle or why you are not ovulating in general but you need to speak to your GP if you suspect it is a regular occurrence.

Symptoms of anovulation.

The main sign that you are not ovulating is absent periods i.e. amenorrhea. You may not know if you are ovulating or not if you have regular periods however. If you want to be 100% sure you are ovulating you can begin to chart your daily temperatures (see ‘Chart you Ovulation’ section) or you can ask your GP to do a blood test around 9 days before your period is due. The blood test measures your progesterone levels which should be nice and high if you have ovulated.

The black line represents progesterone levels which increases after ovulation.

 

Likewise, if you decide to chart your temperatures, a sustained increase in your basal body temperature (BBT) for a 12-16 days before your period is due would indicate you have ovulated.

BBT chart showing ovulation (red vertical line) followed by a rise in BBT. The rise is sustained for 14 days prior to a temperature dip and menstruation.

 

If you are having periods but your progesterone levels and your BBT  does not rise, then it is likely you are having anovulatory cycles. From charting my own ovulation, I know I have had at least one anovulatory cycle at a point when I was very stressed out. This cycle was short (22 days) and instead of ovulating I got my period early and it was lighter than normal.

BBT chart showing my anovulatory cycle. There is no ovulation detected on my chart and no sustained rise in BBT, despite getting positive ovulation tests on two separate occasions..

 

Treatment for anovulation.

If you have been diagnosed with anovulation by your GP and you are trying to conceive then you will probably be referred to a gynecologist who will do further tests and try you on some medication. You would probably be given a drug called clomid which stimulates the body to ovulate and this drug is found to work very successfully.

Clomiphene citrate stimulates ovulation.

How does Clomid work?

Clomid has a similar structure to estrogen and attaches to estrogen receptor cells in the hypothalamus (in the brain). With the estrogen receptor cells blocked, your brain thinks that you have low estrogen in your body. As estrogen is usually released from the maturing follicles on your ovaries, the brain thinks the follicles are not maturing so it produces more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The FHS stimulates the follicles to mature and they release estrogen and its levels will become nice and high and will then induce the all important peak in luteinizing hormone (LH). The peak in LH causes the release of the egg from the ovaries. You can only get Clomid with a prescription from your doctor or gynecologist.

How to stimulate ovulation Naturally.

If you are ovulating but not very often, or your cycles are very long and infrequent, there is an alternative natural treatment you can try to naturally stimulate ovulation. To induce ovulation naturally there are several routes you can take. You can take fertility herbs to try to balance out your hormone levels (which I have described in the ‘Fertility vitamins and Fertility herbs section‘) or you can try Soy isoflavones. I have written a separate post on ‘Soy Isoflavones‘ which may be of interest to you.

 

If you have any questions or if you have had any experience with anovulation or Clomid, please share below.

Thanks.

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14 thoughts on “Anovulation – What is it and how can it be treated?

  1. Riley says:

    This article genuinely helped me a lot. I went off birth control last December and have experienced amenorrhea since then. To my understanding, going off birth control can have an affect on this, but I am definitely going to have it checked out I think. Thanks. 🙂

    • Hi, I experienced this when I came off the pill a few years back. After I stopped I did not get a period for almost 6 months. I went to see my dr and they did some tests, all of which were normal apart from my prolactin levels which were high. I didn’t have any treatment for this but I started taking the fertility herb Vitex which really helped my periods to come back. It might be worth going and seeing your Dr too if it has been 6 months. It is so frustrating as you constantly think you could be pregnant.

  2. Great information. I know that there can be a lot of stress when you are trying to get pregnant, and worried about ovulation. This takes the guess work out and some of the worry. Great information, some that was new to me. If stimulating ovulation does not occur naturally, then a doctor visit?

    • Hi, yes if you are trying to get pregnant and you suspect you haven’t ovulated for 3 cycles on the run then you should see your GP. Every woman can have the odd one or two cycles a year when they do not ovulate, but it it is happening regularly then it is definitely worth going and having some blood tests to begin with.

  3. Hey Vicki, we’re not trying to get pregnant at the moment but it’s something we’re thinking about in the near future. There are fertility issues on both our sides of our family. I like that you gave an alternative to pharmaceutical medication. I prefer natural options.

    • Thank you. I know a lot of couples are wanting to try out natural methods first. It is worth giving them a go as they usually work more gently on your system. If you ever need any help or advise let me know. I’m sure you will be fine and fall pregnant without any interventions. Good luck 🙂

  4. Emmanuel Buysse says:

    This is a great article, sometimes my wife is already panicking why she’s not and already afraid something is bad..
    I’ll show her this post to ler her see that there’s nothing bad going on.

    • I was the same before I started TTC. It is always a worry something might be wrong but more often than not there are easy fixes to any issue when it comes to fertility. Good luck on your TTC journey.

  5. Andy says:

    Hi thanks for a very informative article myself and my partner have been trying for a while now with no luck yet. I think she has had all the blood tests and other stuff but I will check and see if she has heard of this.

    Many thanks!

    • I love that men are researching on behalf of their partners when it comes to TTC. I hope your wife finds the information useful and good luck on your TTC journey. If you need any advise, let me know.

  6. This is a brilliant post. This is the exact information I have been looking for. I too had no idea there was so much involved in the ovulation process. i love that you have shared your own charts with us. This is very helpful. Thank you.

    • You are very welcome. I am so glad I could help you out. If you like my charts, I update the ‘charting your ovulation‘ post on a monthly basis with my previous chart. I have been using vitamin B6 and Vitex to help me ovulate earlier and to lengthen my luteal phase and it has worked wonders. Find out more here.

  7. Really interesting article. You have shared a great depth of knowledge on this subject. I had no idea. This could be a great source of information. Thank you for sharing.

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