What Are Ovulation Disorders?
Ovulation disorders are among the most common causes of infertility in women. Caused by problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones, ovulation disorders are defined as disturbances in the production of an egg (also known as an oocyte or ovum) during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The disorders often occur as a result of conditions such as:
- Hypothalamic dysfunction, either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Premature ovarian failure
- Too much prolactin, a hormone that, among many other functions, promotes breast milk production
Depending on an ovulation disorder’s cause and the hormones affecting ovulation, symptoms will vary. In some cases, infertility may be the only symptom. Others include:
Irregular periods — Irregular or absent periods are common.
Mood changes — These generally include anxiety, depression and nervousness.
- Weight changes — Weight gain often coincides with hypothyroidism, while weight loss occurs with hyperthyroidism.
Treatments for ovulation disorders are focused on improving the quality and frequency of ovulation. Some treatments include:
Fertility medications — Both oral and injectable fertility medications can stimulate the ovaries to produce and release eggs. Most women will respond to an oral medication, which requires minimal monitoring. If a patient doesn’t respond to oral medication, she will begin injectable medications that will need closer monitoring by a doctor.
Lifestyle changes — In addition to medication for thyroid conditions, patients are encouraged to make lifestyle changes. Keeping weight at optimal levels, regular exercise and stress relief methods are suggested.
- Thyroid hormone replacement therapy — For patients with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, thyroxine (T4) helps bring thyroid levels back into healthy ranges. Doctors monitor patients on these medications, which are most often taken orally, to make sure they aren’t taking too much or too little.
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