Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that can cause you to not ovulate normally. Ovulation is an important process that occurs during your monthly cycle. The ovulatory phase involves the release of a mature egg from the ovary. Once released the egg travels down the fallopian tube over a period of 24-48 hours where it waits to become fertilized and implant on the uterine wall. Hence, leading to conception and pregnancy. Yet, there are a variety of underlying conditions that interfere with the ovulation process and lead to ovulation dysfunction. Increased awareness regarding ovulation dysfunction and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is needed to increase early diagnosis and treatment.
Understanding Ovulation Dysfunction
When it comes to ovulation disorders there are two types that can interfere with your healthy ovulation phases. The first is known as anovulation and the second is known as oligo-ovulation. Anovulation occurs when the ovaries fail to release an egg during your monthly cycle. If this occurs you may experience a monthly cycle that lasts longer than 28-32 days which results in an absent period. Experiencing an anovulatory cycle on a regular and consistent basis indicates issues with amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of 1 or more menstrual periods. And while most cases of amenorrhea indicate pregnancy it can also be a sign of ovulation dysfunction.
As for oligo-ovulation, you will experience ovulation on an irregular basis. Meaning the ovaries release eggs inconsistently during each monthly cycle. It is common to encounter some months where you ovulate and other months where you don’t ovulate. This form of ovulation dysfunction contributes to oligomenorrhea becoming present. Oligomenorrhea involves infrequent or irregular periods. So, instead of having an average 28-32 day cycle you can experience longer, or shorter cycles which vary month to month.
Consequently, both types of ovulation dysfunction are key indicators that your reproductive system is not functioning properly. They indicate the presence of disharmony with your sex hormones, ovaries, uterus, hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These issues will present themselves within your monthly cycle causing irregular cycles and periods to occur more often.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome & Ovulation Dysfunction
PCOS can best be described as a hormonal disorder in which there is an excessive level of male sex hormones present within a woman’s body. Yet, this is an oversimplified definition for the complexity of how this disorder wreaks havoc on not only the reproductive system but the body as a whole. The hormonal imbalances caused by PCOS causes a cluster of metabolic issues in the form of:
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Cholesterol
- Weight Complications
- Excessive Hair Growth
So, how exactly does PCOS cause ovulation dysfunction? Primarily it’s due to the imbalance of hormones. Specifically the overproduction of male sex hormones known as androgens. This hormonal imbalance leads to the suppressed ability for the body to produce estrogen which inhibits the growth and maturation of healthy eggs within the ovaries. Thereby, the ovaries are unable to release a mature egg during the ovulatory phase.
Identifying Ovulation Dysfunction & PCOS
Indeed, the most complicated part of determining the cause of reproductive dysfunction is becoming aware of signs and symptoms. Yet, learning how to track your cycle can increase awareness regarding how your body is functioning and identify ovulation issues. If after tracking your cycle for 3-6 months you notice irregularities with your cycle such as
- Longer than average cycles (32 days or more)
- Irregular periods
- Absent Periods
- Inconsistent cycles (cycle length fluctuates month to month)
These signs could indicate an issue with ovulation dysfunction and mean that you should reach out to your gynecologist and discuss what you are experiencing.
You should talk in-depth with your gynecologist about PCOS if you are experiencing the above issues as well as
- Abnormal weight gain
- Excessive hair growth (esp. face, chest, back)
- Higher than normal blood pressure
- Elevated sugar levels
- Family history of PCOS
Discussing these symptoms with your doctor and asking them to order the appropriate testing to help identify if your ovulation dysfunction is linked to PCOS or any other underlying condition can lead to determining what’s causing your ovulation issues.
About the Author.
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I am an Esthetician, Lifestyle Wellness Coach, Content Creator, and Writer. My intention is to provide you with education and awareness about women’s health, nutrition, fitness, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. I primarily help women that are seeking holistic and natural solutions to managing their chronic condition, improving their lifestyle and combating anti-aging concerns. I offer coaching programs and courses that are designed to help you redefine your health and defy aging. You can find my content on a variety of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!