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Anovulatory cycles: when you don’t ovulate

27 April 2020

For most women, an egg is released from the ovary each month, ready to be fertilised. However, in some circumstances, the egg is not released – called Anovulatory Cycle, and pregnancy cannot occur. In this article, we review common causes of anovulatory cycles, symptoms and how to manage them.

How common are anovulatory cycles?

Anovulatory cycles tend to be more common in puberty and close to menopause. However, they can also occur in women during their fertile years from time to time. As a woman may still have a bleed, they may not notice it was an anovulatory cycle.

Causes for anovulatory cycles

Several reasons may be behind a woman experiencing a menstrual cycle without ovulation:

  • Low or high body weight
  • Eating habits
  • Extreme exercise
  • High levels of stress
  • Disruption to routine
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Hormonal imbalances


Diagnosis of anovulatory cycles

First signs of anovulatory cycles may be the presence of irregular menstruation, a cycle is shorter than 21 days or a cycle longer than 35 days. Some women also experience a lack of periods.

If you are tracking your ovulation with myLotus, you are measuring your LH concentration in urine and may notice there is no LH surge. If you experience three consecutive cycles with no LH surge, further investigation is needed.

Some women may, however, have an LH surge, along with other positive signs of ovulation, but still not ovulate – this is called Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome.

 To confirm if you are having anovulatory cycles, your doctor will check:

  • Your blood hormone levels (LH, FSH, Progesterone and Oestradiol)
  • Your Ovaries
  • The lining of your uterus

Treatment for anovulatory cycles

When a woman is experiencing anovulatory cycles, the treatment is targeted at the identified cause. If the cause of failure to ovulate is low or high weight, normalising your weight may help you ovulate again. If the cause is related to exercise, stress or disruption to routine, addressing these may also re-start ovulation.

When hormonal changes are the cause of anovulation, the doctor may prescribe medication to stimulate ovulation and help you get pregnant.

In conclusion…

  • Track your ovulation. The more you know about your body and cycle, the more likely you are to know when something is not right.
  • Improve your nutrition, with healthy foods that support your reproductive system.
  • Moderate exercise daily can help you move closer to your fertility zone for weight.
  • Address your habits, like smoking and alcohol which can affect ovulation.
  • If you believe you may not be ovulating, speak with a healthcare professional.

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