It has been undeniably understood that ovulatory disorders are the major causes of infertility in women. Thus, this statement makes enough sense that ovulatory disorders and infertility are complementary to each other. With these facts in mind, the current article sets out to explore the other known causes of ovulatory disorders. Of note, the main intent or purpose behind this task is to find out possible solutions to improve fertility rates in women.
Defining Ovulatory Disorders
As stated above, ovulatory disorders happen to be the most common cause of female infertility. These manifest in various ways to impact reproductive health in women. One noted explanation that can be well rationalized for this particular issue is the problems associated with regulating reproductive hormones. Ovulatory disorders are, therefore, characterized by disturbances in producing ova/oocytes (eggs) when one is due for ovulation. When stressing the term ‘ovulation’, this is critical to either prepare one for the next menstrual cycle or determine/plan an exact time to conceive.
Causes Of Ovulatory Disorders
The most common causes have included the following:
- Hypothalamic Dysfunction: This occurs as a result of pituitary gland disorders, resulting in hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Needless to say, this gland sits in the hypothalamic region of the brain and is responsible for controlling/regulating all major body functions, including metabolism.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This is a condition that results in the production of the male hormone called androgen in excess. Due to this phenomenon, women may have few, unusual, or long periods. Since androgen results in the formation of multiple fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries, this is likely to disturb the regular release of the eggs.
- Premature Ovarian Failure: Also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, this happens when ovarian functions cease before a woman reaches her due age, say 50 or 51. Shockingly enough, some tend to experience this when they are not yet 40. Ovaries thus fail to release adequate eggs and produce estrogen simultaneously at a regular pace. Well enough to mention that these anomalies in a female’s reproductive system are more than likely to cause infertility.
- Excessive Production of Prolactin: Hyperprolactinemia has been described as a highly pathologic condition and affects female reproductive health considerably. Also associated with secondary amenorrhea/oligomenorrhea, there is a strong likelihood for hyperprolactinemia to result in ovulatory disorders.
Symptoms Associated with Ovulatory Disorders
Infertility happens to be one major symptom of dysfunctional ovaries in some cases. However, in others, symptoms may vary depending on the causes and the hormones that affect ovulation. In light of these facts, the major symptoms identified, have included the following:
- Irregularity in Periods: For women experiencing period irregularities, it is common for them to notice absent periods a good number of times.
- Mood Changes: Situations that cause anxiety, depression, and nervousness are likely to impact ovarian functions.
- Weight Changes: The weight loss or weight gain that women generally notice is well attributed to conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Of note, these symptoms can likely represent problems with ovarian dysfunction.
Infertility and Its Causes
While ovulatory disorders indicate the inability of a woman to produce and release the required amount of eggs, infertility denotes her difficulty in conceiving. Since the reproductive issue is common between these conditions, both ovarian function and fertility can be highly impacted by this single factor. It should be worth noting here that becoming fertile and getting pregnant involves multiple steps. Listing them out will simultaneously reveal the causes affecting them.
- The inability of the brain to produce reproductive hormones: This can indicate problems with the pituitary gland in producing reproductive hormones that help in regulating ovarian function.
- Non-maturing Follicles in the Ovary (Problems with Ovulation): If the follicles fail to mature, it is obvious that there will not be enough eggs to fertilize. Issues like this again point toward the inability of the pituitary glands to produce hormones for stimulating the ovarian follicles to mature and release the eggs.
- The inability of the Fallopian Tube/s to Pick the Egg: Sometimes, the fallopian tubes are not capable or viable enough to collect the eggs released from the follicles. This occurs secondary to pelvic inflammatory disease, in turn, caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Poor Egg Quality: Egg quality is critical to fertilizing an egg. Hence, even if the sperms are viable enough to travel to the eggs, the likelihood of the latter getting fertilized depends on its quality.
Treatment Options Available for Ovulatory Dysfunction and Infertility
So far, fertility medications, lifestyle changes, and thyroid hormone replacement therapy have been considered to be the most popular and viable treatment options.
- Fertility Medications: Fertility medications in either oral or injectable forms, or both ways are provided to treat infertility-related issues in women. These serve to stimulate the ovaries to produce and release eggs. The reason why both oral and injectable forms of fertility drugs are considered is that not all women can gain better responses with either one. The fact that injectable fertility medications require close supervision by a physician suggests the likelihood of experiencing adverse reactions with the same. One is likely to come across allergic symptoms like irritability, tenderness in breasts, injection-site bruising, headaches, hot flashes, blurred vision, and nausea.
- Lifestyle Changes: Since thyroid-related causes also account for fertility issues, often manifested by ovulatory issues, these either represent low or overweight symptoms. Physicians usually recommend keeping weight within normal to improve ovulatory function.
- Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy: Adjunct to issues related to weight gain specifically, this will most probably require one to be on thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Testing one’s thyroxine levels is preliminary to this requirement though. Besides, being an integral component in thyroid function, it is thyroxine that helps optimize thyroid levels to stay within the healthy range. Patients need to ingest thyroid medications orally to ensure they are taking them in the prescribed quantities.
Ovulatory disorders and infertility are highly related in the sense that the inability of the latter to produce eggs can most probably trigger fertility issues in a woman. Causes leading to these issues have been found independent of each other as discussed above. However, one cannot deny that issues related to reproductive function and subsequent hormonal imbalances are highly attributable to these ovarian dysfunctions and infertility. Treatment options for the same have, therefore, and by large, included fertility medications (oral and/or injectable), changes in lifestyle, and thyroid hormone replacement therapy.