Problems with ovulation that can cause infertility

It can be difficult and complicated to determine the cause of ovulation problems. Possible causes may include:

  • Hormonal imbalances. 70% of all women with ovulation problems have hormonal imbalances related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).1 Other ovulation problems can originate in the ovaries, or in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which produce hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. These hormones are vital to normal ovulation.
  • Structural problems. Abnormalities in the structure of the ovaries (such as ovarian cysts) or structural problems in other reproductive organs can cause changes in a woman's ovulation schedule.
  • General medical problems. Medical problems that affect the metabolism (such as thyroid problems), serious illness, emotional stress, overweight and low weight, or excessive exercise can affect a woman's ovulation schedule.
  • Cancer treatment. Exposure to certain kinds of chemotherapy or radiation can damage the egg supply in the ovaries.

Citations

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2002, reaffirmed 2006). Management of infertility caused by ovulatory dysfunction. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 34. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 99(2): 347–358.

Last Updated: March 21, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA & Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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