Definition - What does Anovulation mean?

Anovulation occurs when a woman is not producing a mature egg on a monthly cycle. Anovulation may be caused by a variety of factors, primarily related to hormonal imbalances. However, once a diagnosis is confirmed, many cases are treatable. Without the presence of normal, monthly ovulation, a woman is unable to become pregnant through intercourse.

FertilitySmarts explains Anovulation

In a typical menstrual cycle, a woman’s body utilizes hormones and signals to trigger the monthly development, maturation, and release of an egg from the ovary. This entire process is called ovulation. Once the egg has been released, it travels through the fallopian tubes, where if sperm is present, fertilization can occur. Without a fully developed and released egg, a woman is unable to become pregnant through intercourse.

Indicators of anovulation include irregular periods, lack of periods, or abnormal bleeding or spotting throughout the month. While these symptoms may also indicate other situations, testing hormone levels can provide definitive information on whether or not ovulation is occurring.

Diagnostic testing includes analysis of the luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) through blood or urine tests during the early stages of a woman’s cycle. Additionally, a day 21 test, a blood test that analyzes the level of progesterone found in a woman’s body on the 21st day of her cycle, may take place. Other diagnostic measures include ultrasound testing to screen for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or other ovarian damage, which can also inhibit ovulation.

Anovulation may be caused by a variety of factors, specifically in relation to hormonal imbalances. If the ovulation triggering hormones are not functioning, available in the necessary amounts, or being released at the correct time, then ovulation will not occur. Hormone imbalance can be caused by a series of circumstances, including:

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Excessive stress
  • Extreme exercise
  • Inappropriate nutrition

In order to treat anovulation, the cause must be diagnosed and addressed. Lifestyle changes, hormone replacement medications, or fertility drugs may all be considered to restore ovulation.

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