If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: age is the primary factor affecting fertility, and it can affect both your ovulation and the viability of your eggs. You are born with all the eggs that you’ll ever have, that’s about a million. As you age, you have fewer eggs in your ovarian reserve. A higher percentage of those eggs become genetically abnormal due to natural aging.
Infertility means you are not able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if you are 35 or older). If you can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant, you may also be infertile.
That being said, there are actually many causes of female infertility, and ovulation disorders are among the most common.
How do you know when and if you are ovulating? There are many indicators, for instance, your cervical mucus becomes clearer and thinner with a more slippery consistency similar to that of egg whites. Also, your cervix softens and opens up, your s3x drive may increase.
During each monthly cycle, you typically have around 25 per cent to 30 per cent chance of getting pregnant, though it can vary widely depending on the circumstances. You can only conceive around the time of ovulation which is between 12 and 24 hours when fertilisation is attainable.
Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from one of the ovaries, which happens every month. Generally, ovulation usually occurs halfway through your menstrual cycle, or around day 14 of the average 28-day cycle counting from the first day of one period to the first day of the next.
But as with everything pregnancy-related, there’s a wide range of normal here since cycles can last anywhere from 23 to 35 days, and even your own cycle and time of ovulation may vary slightly from month to month.
Your basal body temperature falls slightly, and then rises again. You may feel a slight twinge of pain or mild cramps in your lower abdomen.
There are a number of ways to predict when you might start ovulating. Here’s how
One detectable sign of ovulation is the position of the cervix itself. During the beginning of a cycle, your cervix—that neck-like passage between your vagina and uterus that has to stretch during birth to accommodate your baby’s head—is low, firm and closed.
But as ovulation approaches, it pulls back up, softens a bit and opens just a little, to let the sperm through on their way to their target. You may or may not easily feel these changes.
Just remember: Patience and persistence are key when you’re trying to get pregnant, and there are no guarantees that you’ll definitely conceive even if you are ovulating. But it can’t hurt to keep an eye out for common ovulation symptoms.
If you have experienced irregular periods, you are most likely to have had irregular ovulation. Some women ovulate only occasionally, some menstruate occasionally, but don’t ovulate. Some women don’t do either.
Ovulatory disorders broadly break down into two groups: anovulation – where no ovulation at all occurs; and oligo-ovulation – where ovulation occurs infrequently or irregularly. PCOS is the most common cause of anovulation and oligo-ovulation not only prevents you from ovulating, but can also cause a number of additional symptoms such as obesity and unwanted facial hair.
If you are not ovulating regularly, the cause is usually that your ovary is not receiving the appropriately timed signals to mature and release an egg. Your pituitary gland, at the base of your brain, produces the hormones that control your ovaries – FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone). If you are not ovulating in a regular, timed fashion, it is likely that your ovaries and pituitary are not communicating appropriately.
If you have PCOS and you’re overweight, losing weight is one way to improve your chances of pregnancy.
Anovulation can usually be treated with drugs, but it is important to be evaluated for other conditions that could interfere with ovulation, such as thyroid conditions or abnormalities of the adrenal or pituitary glands. Once your doctor has ruled out other medical conditions, he or she may prescribe fertility drugs to stimulate your ovulation.
PCOS can’t be cured, but there are treatments available to treat the symptoms and the infertility associated with this condition. One of the best potential treatments for women with PCOS is IVF. It is especially useful when there is co-existing male factor infertility by stimulating ovulation, especially if you are trying to conceive, and treating insulin resistance, regular ovulation and periods often are restored.
If you have an ovulatory disorder, regardless of the type, you should seek treatment if you want your chances of becoming pregnant to be similar to the average for women who ovulate regularly.
Most women with an ovulatory disorder will begin treatment with their obstetrician/gynecologist, using oral medications like clomiphene.
Several studies have shown that using clomiphene, you are likely to respond with regular ovulation and may become pregnant within three to six treatment cycles.
If you have done three cycles of clomiphene and you are still not ovulating, or have not become pregnant, you should undergo additional evaluation with a fertility specialist.
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The bottom line is that as a couple, don’t wait too long to see a fertility physician if you are not having success. The first thing a fertility specialist will do is determine whether there are any issues in addition to your ovulatory disorder that would affect fertility.
Once a treatment plan has been formulated based on diagnosis, you are on your way. Medication doses can be adjusted or additional medication added during the cycle, until you achieve ovulation.
Seeing a fertility specialist can help you time intercourse more accurately, and to add additional treatment methods to help achieve pregnancy. When treatment is tailored to your individual response, it greatly increases the chances for success.
Ovulatory disorders are one of the most common and treatable causes of infertility, but this doesn’t mean that you will be successful right away. But the fact that you can overcome ovulatory disorders and have successful pregnancies gives cause for cheer.