Ovulation and fertility
Ovulation disorders are one of the leading causes of female infertility, and occur when ovulation is disrupted or absent. They present as irregular or absent periods and can be confirmed with a blood test.
Causes of ovulation disorders
There are several causes of ovulation disorders. Some are caused by hormonal problems, when the brain or pituitary gland does not release the correct hormones, or hormone levels are imbalanced. This can be caused by stress, diet and exercise, radiation or a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and can lead to eggs getting released at irregular intervals or not at all. Other ovulation disorders are caused by issues with the ovaries. Some women for example are born with no ovaries at all, or have ovaries that fail prematurely (premature ovarian failure). Others have ovaries that are resistant to the effects of hormones and the eggs do not develop (ovary syndrome) or ovaries that have been damaged by medication, radiation or surgery.
Why ovulation disorders cause infertility
A disrupted or absent ovulation means that an egg is released rarely or never, thus preventing conception from occurring.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Abnormal menstrual cycles - characterised by unusually frequent or infrequent periods, and/or irregular cycle lengths – are usually the clearest indication of an ovulation disorder being present.
A doctor can usually diagnose ovulation disorders by discussing details of the patient’s previous menstrual cycles, and blood tests and ultrasound studies of the ovaries can also be used to clarify whether ovulation is occurring.
Choosing the right treatment for you
We can treat ovulation disorders with IVF treatment, using medication to regulate your menstrual cycle. The right treatment will depend on the exact nature of your ovulation disorder, and you can discuss this with one of our doctors who will be able to devise a tailor-made treatment plan.
For women who are ovulating, we can offer our Natural, Natural Modified or Mild IVF treatment, depending on your circumstances. These are all milder forms of IVF which are designed to avoid overstimulation and other side effects. For women who are not ovulating, egg donation treatment is available. This can be either with a known donor or anonymous donor and we have specialist egg donation staff who can help to match with a suitable donor. For more information, visit our ‘Egg donation’ page.