For a woman to become pregnant, she must ovulate, or develop and release healthy eggs from her ovaries. If this does not occur properly, it can lead to female infertility, preventing conception. Fortunately, many women who suffer from ovulatory disorders can achieve their family goals with appropriate fertility treatments. For example, we often recommend IVF, or in vitro fertilization, for women with ovulatory issues. This sophisticated treatment involves the use of special medications to induce ovulation, then harvesting healthy eggs, fertilizing them with harvested sperm in our lab, and inserting them into the woman’s uterus. Dr. Janelle Dorsett and our team of fertility specialists can use advanced methods to diagnose and treat ovulatory disorders at our Lubbock practice. Read on to learn more about these conditions and how we can help you overcome them with proper care.
Most Common Ovulatory Disorders
Unfortunately, 20 percent of women struggling to conceive suffer from some type of ovulatory disorder. The most common types of these conditions include:
- Diminished ovarian reserve. This condition occurs when your eggs degrade or become destroyed before they are released. Women may suffer from diminished ovarian reserve as a result of ovarian surgery, obesity, endometriosis, congenital issues, or related fertility problems, such as PCOS.
- Premature ovarian insufficiency. Typically, healthy women stop generating eggs between age 40 and 60, during menopause. However, chemotherapy and radiation, hereditary issues, autoimmune disease, or prior ovarian procedures can trigger this process earlier. Unlike menopausal women, patients with premature ovarian insufficiency may occasionally ovulate, and one in ten eventually achieve pregnancy through natural means.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Your ovaries may develop small fluid-filled growths, called cysts, if you have heightened testosterone or other androgen hormone levels. These bumps can prevent your follicles from generating and growing healthy eggs. PCOS is the number one cause of female infertility. It is often asymptomatic, but it can cause pelvic pain, acne, irregular hair growth, weight gain, or menstruation issues.
- Hypothalamic amenorrhea. Stress, poor nutrition, overly strenuous exercise, or other conditions can lead your hypothalamus, the portion of your brain that directs reproductive activities, to malfunction. Patients with hypothalamic amenorrhea do not ovulate or menstruate regularly, if at all.
Diagnosing Ovulatory Disorders
When you seek help at The Centre for Reproductive Medicine, our first step will be diagnosing your condition. To determine if you suffer from an ovulatory disorder and, if you do, identify the type, our fertility specialists may:
- Conduct a thorough physical exam.
- Review your medical record.
- Ask you about your menstrual history and patterns.
- Recommend that you measure your ovulation and identify when you are releasing eggs during your cycle. To do so, you can use an ovulation kit, which involves a urine analysis appliance, much like a pregnancy test.
- Draw blood to test your levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and progesterone, important compounds that drive and are released during ovulation.
- Perform an ultrasound to generate an image of your ovaries.
- Remove a small portion of your endometrial tissue (the lining that you shed during menstruation) for analysis in our lab. This is called an endometrial biopsy.
Our Treatment Options
If we diagnose you with an ovulatory disorder, Dr. Dorsett and our team will recommend an appropriate course of action. This will depend on your particular circumstances. For example, if you suffer from hypothalamic amenorrhea due to a poor diet, balancing your nutrition could be sufficient to help you conceive. If you suffer a diminished ovarian reserve or PCOS, we may recommend using ovulation inducing drugs or IVF to help you become pregnant. In severe or particularly complicated cases, we may recommend using an egg donor to aid in conception. Dr. Dorsett will more thoroughly explain your treatment options and help you choose an appropriate solution for your needs and preferences.
Do You Suffer From an Ovulatory Disorder?
If you believe you may suffer from an ovulatory issue, we can help diagnose and treat your condition at The Centre for Reproductive Medicine. Contact our fertility practice today to learn more about ovulatory disorders or find out how we can help you become pregnant.