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Women's Wellness

Missing Your Ovulation Cycle—What Anovulation Means And When To Seek Help

An anovulatory cycle refers to that menstrual cycle when ovulation or the release of an egg does not occur. An expert tells you why it happens and how to deal with it.

By Debashruti Banerjee
10 Mar 2022

The menstrual cycle is almost a month-long complex biological process, in which the ovulatory cycle occurs mid-way and sets the uterus up for possible pregnancy. When we start our periods, our body runs low on hormones. Soon after, there occurs a rise in oestrogen in the ovaries from the pituitary gland. Moreover, the Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) leads to the development of the egg or the ovum, which when fertilised with sperm results in a pregnancy. The egg is released from the ovaries due to the effect of the Luteinising Hormone (LH). There develops a benign cyst in the ovary, called the corpus luteum, which triggers the release of progesterone, helps develop a uterine lining and makes the uterus a hospitable place for a baby to grow in. In case fertilisation does not happen, the uterine lining sheds and menstruation occurs. Read this guide to learn more about your ovulation period and how to calculate ovulation.

 

On the flip side, anovulatory cycles refer to those months of menstruation when ovulation or the release of an unfertilised egg from the ovaries does not happen. This can happen due to hormonal imbalance in the body arising from a variety of reasons, and is treated and/or managed with an equally person-to-person approach—as per Dr. Rooma Sinha, a Hyderabad-based gynaecologist at Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills. Due to the lack of an egg, pregnancy does not occur. The menstrual cycle is delayed, and people may experience prolonged amenorrhea (absence of periods). Although an anovulatory cycle here and there isn't uncommon, especially during menarche (first period) and menopause (last period), here's what a gynaecologist needs you to know about the condition.

 

Related story: How Seed Cycling May Help Maintain Hormonal Balance Naturally

 

What can cause you to miss your ovulation date?

According to Dr. Sinha, anovulation (caused by abnormal or inadequate hormone generation) can be caused by a variety of factors including but not limited to:

1. Mental stress

2. Sedentary lifestyle, obesity as well as overly aggressive exercising

3. Exhausted eggs during menopause

4. Premature ovarian failure in people younger than menopausal age

5. Irregular periods in the first couple of years of menstruation in adolescents

 

Other causes may include use of birth control or contraceptives and suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

 

Related story: This or That: Barrier or Chemical Birth Control To Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy

 

When should you seek help to regulate your ovulation days?

"Not everyone has a 28-days menstrual cycle, so one need not worry too early," assures Dr. Sinha. However, not getting regular screenings may leave important signals overlooked. You may be at a risk for endometrial hyperplasia (caused by excess oestrogen and not enough progesterone, since progesterone only develops when the egg is released due to the work of the corpus luteum and has a maturing effect on the uterine lining). Moreover, anovulation in older people carries a certain risk for endometrial carcinoma. Therefore, you should definitely check in with your OB-GYN if you are:

1.Trying to get pregnant and experiencing infertility issues

2.Not getting your period (secondary onset amenorrhea) for 3 months or more

3.Experiencing prolonged bleeding

 

Why isn't there a one-stop treatment for anovulation?

Dr. Sinha says that treatment for anovulatory cycles differs from patient to patient. The doctor must ask your age, ascertain the cause for your irregular or absent ovulation period, whether you want to get pregnant in the near future and what will be the long-term consequences of this on your body. "A young girl with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) who isn't concerned about getting pregnant will be treated differently than someone who is actively trying to have a baby. For them, one of the approaches may be to stimulate the egg through ovulation induction. On the other hand, someone over the age of 40 needs to be given cyclical progesterone to protect their uterine lining and minimise the risk of carcinoma or hyperplasia," she explains.

The most important cure when it comes to anovulation, as per Dr. Sinha, is a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating good food are the best ways to make it happen. "Unfortunately, many of my patients get disappointed when I ask them to improve their lifestyle and not just prescribe medication," she laughs.

 

 

Related story: Planning A Pregnancy? Things to Know Before You Conceive

 

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