Medically Reviewed by: Monica Rincon, MSc., NFP Health Professional
The female contribution of infertility is about 40-55% of all couples who have issues trying to conceive. Ovulation dysfunction (OD) is one of the main causes in women, and represents up to 25% of couples infertility.
OD is not a single condition but it is a generic term for a group of fertility issues that cause a woman have irregular or absent menstrual cycles. The causes of OD are varied, one of major causes is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which affects 10-18% women worldwide.To learn specifically about ovulation dysfunction and PCOS, read our articles PCOS Types and Treatments and What is PCOS and What are the Symptoms?
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the term "ovulation dysfunction", especially since people tend to view ovulation as a single event, rather than the process it actually is. There are many points in the fertility cycle where issues can occur that cause ovulation dysfunction.
Causes of Ovulation Dysfunction
Other causes from PCOS of OD are briefly described here. First, in some senses; ovulation starts with the brain. If there are issues with certain parts of the brain, your menstrual cycle can be affected. One brain-related cause of OD is issues with the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps control ovulation. If there’s something physically wrong with it -- or you’re under extreme stress or exercise and /or overweight or underweight -- it won’t function properly and can cause ovulation to stop altogether.
Second, OD can also be caused by hormonal issues. Some women can have thyroid issues that cause abnormal ovulation. Others might have high levels of prolactin, a hormone that breast-feeding mothers produce that prevents a woman from properly ovulating, sometimes even if they haven’t had children.
Third, another cause of OD is issues with ovulation itself. A well known issue is the diminished ovarian reserves in women over the age of 40. A less common issue is premature ovarian insufficiency (failure) that stops women less than 40 years of age from ovulating. These are generally the hardest cases to treat.
Symptoms of Ovulation Dysfunction
All of these conditions lead to a variety of similar symptoms that include uterine walls being to thick or too thin, poor production of cervical mucus, and poor egg maturation. This, in turn, prevents a proper fertilization or maturation of an egg.
Despite all these issues, most women with ovulation dysfunction do in fact ovulate. Know this, there are many low-cost and natural ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant with this condition. For example you can get to know your ovulation cycle using ovulation test strips and confirm you've ovulated through tracking your basal body temperature or PdG tracking. Using the Premom app can help you track your signals and symptoms to help you better understand your personal ovulation cycle. In most cases ovulation dysfunction makes trying to conceive hard, but not impossible.
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Updated August 24, 2020