5 Reasons You May Not Be Ovulating

Gynecologist demonstrating model of female reproductive system to young woman in clinic

 If you’re someone who regularly tracks their menstrual cycle (which hopefully you are), you know the signs and symptoms of ovulation:

  • Heightened senses
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mild pelvic pain
  • Changes in basal body temperature
  • Libido changes
  • Spotting
  • Changes in your cervical mucus

These telling signs let you know that your body is ready for fertilization. If you usually experience these common ovulation symptoms every month and have been missing them, you might not be ovulating as you are supposed to. This can be extremely frustrating, especially for women trying to conceive.

Successful ovulation occurs when progesterone rises post-ovulation and remains adequately elevated for several days during the luteal phase. Without enough progesterone, ovulation is considered weak, making it more difficult to get pregnant. 

While anovulatory cycles (cycles when ovulation doesn’t occur) may occur occasionally, recurrent lack of ovulation may signal autoimmune, genetic, or nutritional disorders.

Here are five common reasons you may not be ovulating the way you should! 

1) You Have PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility for women in the United States. It happens when a woman’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce more male hormones than normal. While there is much to be learned about PCOS, it is known that a combination of insulin resistance and hormone imbalance contribute to weight gain, the inability to lose weight, and the disruption of regular fertility cycles. Women who are obese are more likely to have PCOS. Symptoms may include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Infertility
  • Baldness or thinning hair
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, and back
  • Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts

2) You Have Low Ovarian Reserves

Some women are born with far fewer eggs than the norm, and some women’s egg stores are damaged or depleted along the way. This is called low or diminished ovarian reserve and is caused by various factors ranging from heredity, medical treatments or medications, and lifestyle choices.

Doctors can estimate a woman’s ovarian reserves based on her medical history and symptoms, using AMH and FSH hormone testing, and performing an antral follicle count during a vaginal ultrasound.

3) Early Menopause

Intermittent or irregular periods are one of the first indications a woman is beginning her journey into menopause. You are only officially in menopause when you’ve ceased menstruating for 12 consecutive months. All the symptoms and signs of menopause before that point are considered perimenopause.

The average age of menopause is about 51 years old, and many women begin experiencing perimenopause in their late-30s and early- to mid-40s, depending on their bodies and lifestyle. Some women, however, experience perimenopause and menopause significantly earlier than that and are in early menopause. Genetics and medical history play a factor in this diagnosis.

4) Stress

When stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, the “stress” hormone that heightens our “fight or flight” response to help us appropriately act when in danger. Chronic stress leads to a prolonged elevation of cortisol levels, which can lower your reproductive hormones’ levels. 

Both cortisol and progesterone are made from cholesterol. When your body senses danger, it will prioritize the production of cortisol over the production of progesterone. Low progesterone levels can lead to higher levels of estrogen, which may inhibit ovulation.

5) You’re Taking NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are anti-inflammatories, and when used regularly, they may prevent ovulation from happening. This is because ovulation is similar to an inflammatory response.

Many fertility clinics use NSAIDS as LH (luteinizing hormone) blockers during ovulation induction treatments to ensure the patient isn’t going to ovulate before the follicles mature. If you are concerned about NSAIDs, consult your doctor to find a more suitable option to replace NSAIDs.

If your ovulation does not occur every 21 to 41 days, make an appointment with your OB/GYN to determine the cause.

At South Avenue Women’s Services, we are understanding and compassionate to every client, whether they are considering pregnancy termination or need well-woman services like pap smears, gynecological exams, and mammograms.

For your convenience, we offer same-day appointments, including evening and weekend appointments. Contact us at (585)271-3850 to speak with a knowledgeable staff member today.