Dr Kanchi Khurana
Many women of childbearing age think they are healthy enough to get pregnant but still face difficulty to conceive. And, one of the most common causes linked to infertility among women these days is ovulatory dysfunction.
Infact women who eat a lot of junk/fast food usually take longer to become pregnant and are more likely to experience infertility issues than their counterparts who rarely eat these types of unhealthy meals. However, other common factors linked to causing ovulatory dysfunction are stress and sedentary lifestyle, hormone imbalance known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), lack of exercise, thyroid dysfunction, etc.
Age of a woman is often considered to be an important factor to get pregnant but these days even teenage girls complain of ovulatory dysfunction owing to eating junk food and leading unhealthy lifestyle. Other causes of ovulatory dysfunction include consumption of alcohol and smoking. Though as many as 30-40% of all women may experience ovulatory dysfunction, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment it is one of the most common and most manageable causes of infertility.
What is Ovulatory Dysfunction?
Ovulation, a complex process, is the release of an egg from the ovary and it must happen in order to achieve pregnancy. Anovulation means lack of ovulation, or absence of ovulation. Both anovulation and oligovulation, that is incomplete ovulation, are kinds of ovulatory dysfunctions which are the single-most frequent cause of female infertility especially among women.
Usually, women with anovulation will have irregular periods. In the worst case, they may not get their cycles at all. So, if your cycles are shorter than 21 days, or longer than 36 days, you may have ovulatory dysfunction. And, if your cycles fall within the normal range of 21 to 36 days, but the length of your cycles varies widely from month to month, that may also be a sign of ovulatory dysfunction.
When a woman is anovulatory, she can’t get pregnant because there is no egg to be fertilized. And, even if she has irregular ovulation, she has fewer chances to conceive, since she ovulates less frequently. Besides, late ovulation doesn’t produce the best quality eggs, which may also make fertilization less likely. Hence, if a woman faces any of these issues, she requires proper treatment to be able to experience motherhood.
Some of the common and early symptoms of ovulatory dysfunction may include:
Sudden increase in body weight
Feeling of fullness in body
Sudden loss or thinning of hair
Depending on the cause, infertility caused due to ovulatory dysfunction includes 3 modes of treatment. So, if you are not ovulating, your infertility specialist may prescribe certain medications to stimulate your ovulation. This is usually recommended as a first line of treatment. However, if medication alone doesn’t work, as a second line of treatment, you may be prescribed a fertility treatment such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. Basically, the goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
And, if any of these above mentioned treatment options do not work or show any result, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is an effective method to produce pregnancies in such cases.
However, some cases of anovulation can also be treated by making certain lifestyle changes or changing diet alone. Similarly, if you are overweight or obese, losing your current weight may be enough to restart ovulation.
(The author is a Gynaecologist)
Dr Kanchi Khurana