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.
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.
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.
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.
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.