By Cristina Mestre Ferrer BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 09/03/2015

Anovulation is one of the main causes of female infertility.

During the menstrual cycle, a grown egg is released so that it can be fertilized by a spermatozoon. If the ovary is unable to release the egg, it is due to a disorder known as anovulation. Anovulation causes female infertility as it entails a lack of viable oocytes. Fortunately, there are treatments to fix these kind of disorders. Anovulation can be circumstantial or chronic.

Causes

The triggering factors of this alteration may have different roots, as they are related to particular lifestyles or different hormonal imbalances. Some of the precursors are:

  • Excessive physical exercise.
  • Loss and gain of weight: these kind of disorders are likely to appear in cases of overweight and underweight. Extreme situations like anorexia and bulimia are included.
  • Breastfeeding period: the production of prolactin during the breastfeeding period blocks the ovarian activity, what usually causes an absence of menstruation.
  • Stress.
  • Travelling.

Regardless the aforementioned causes, anovulation can also be a result of other kind of problems, with predominance of the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS), hyperprolactinemia, primary or secondary ovarian failure, and amenorrhea amongst them.

Diagnosis

Different methods can be used to diagnose anovulation, like blood analysis, pelvic examinations, or ultrasounds. Moreover, a wide range of treatments can be indicated according to what is causing the alteration.

It can also be detected using other techniques, such as measuring the body basal temperature. In case of ovulation, temperature slightly increases half-way. There’s also another procedure that consists of checking the mocus of the elastic uterine neck.

Treatment

In mild cases, a simple treatment is more than enough to solve it. Such treatment will comprise switching to a healthy diet, doing regular or moderated physical exercise, and learning about stress management. Nevertheless, in more severe cases, treatments with clomiphene citrate are usually prescribed, especially for women affected by the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or gonadotropins to induce ovulation.

Sometimes the treatment contemplates the use of drugs and in some cases a surgical intervention is required. In either case, resorting to the specialist is always advisable.

Other cause for female sterility related to ovulation is disovulation, a condition in which there is ovulation, but it is ineffective. Thus, the egg cannot be fertilized.

Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information