What is anovulation?

Anovulation is when a woman’s ovaries neither develop nor release eggs. Anovulation is a common cause of infertility, accounting for approximately 25% of all infertility cases. A woman normally ovulates every 24 to 34 days until menopause and if a woman has only one period every few months, or no periods, this may be a sign of anovulation.

Causes of anovulation

Anovulation occurs when the body’s hormones are out of balance. 4 different hormones are involved in ovulation during a woman’s menstrual cycle. If these hormones are out of balance eggs may not develop or be released. The hormonal cycle is typically the first diagnostic test.

Body weight also plays a role in ovulation.  Low bodyweight and obesity can both affect ovulation, and even cause anovulation. 

If ovulation occurs regularly, but the eggs do not proceed through the fallopian tubes to the uterus, the doctor will look at other causes of infertility, such as blockages of the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids.

Symptoms of anovulation

Frequently missed periods may be a symptom of anovulation. Excessive weight fluctuations, overall bodyweight conditions, and emotional stress can also be symptoms.

Treatment for anovulation

We can determine whether anovulation is an underlying cause of your couple's infertility through blood tests and analyses of ovarian reserve and ovulation. If anovulation is diagnosed, several methods of assisted reproductive technology may be appropriate; such as Clomiphene citrate or Femara (fertility pills) and other hormone therapies to encourage egg production.

If medication does not work, gonadotropin hormones may be given to stimulate ovulation. If hormone therapy does not work, or we may recommend another course of action such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

If egg quality is a problem, using a donor egg fertilized by sperm from the woman’s partner or a donor can be a last resort alternative.