Definition - What does Oligoovulation mean?

Oligoovulation is inconsistent or irregular ovulation and is typically diagnosed when a woman has 8 or fewer menstrual cycles per year.

In order to increases the chance of becoming pregnant, the body must produce regular, healthy eggs. This means that oligoovulation may be an indication of subfertility or infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Oligoovulation

Ovulation is controlled by hormones released throughout the body in conjunction with the monthly menstrual cycle. The hypothalamus, a node in the base of the brain, monitors and regulates the output of hormones responsible for ovulation.

  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is released at the beginning of the cycle, prompting the development of the follicle, the small sac where the egg is developed.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released next, prompting the release of additional FSH from the pituitary gland, which aids in the maturation of the egg in the ovary.
  • Estrogen is released by the ovaries as the eggs continue to develop.
  • Progesterone is released to aid in the development of the uterine lining.
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH) is released as the follicle matures, indicating that ovulation is imminent.

At any point, the malfunction or disproportionate release of these hormones can impede or prevent ovulation from occurring.

How are is oligoovulation diagnosed?

A series of tests are performed to diagnosed ovulatory disorders, including:

  • Hormone testing, to determine whether or not the body is being prompted to ovulate.
  • Blood testing, timed with the menstrual cycle can determine if there are appropriate levels of these hormones are being produced at the necessary times.
  • An ultrasound exam may be used to monitor follicle development in the ovaries and to evaluate ovarian function.

What conditions are related to oligoovulation?

Conditions responsible for oligoovulation include:

Hypothalamic/pituitary problems:

  • Excessive stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Tumors

Complications of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian functioning:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Treatment of oligoovulation typically involves medication to stimulate ovulation. However, additional treatment, based on the specific diagnosis, may involve surgical procedures or lifestyle changes.

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