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Ovulation Dysfunction - An Overview

Posted Monday, May 4, 2009 9:51 PM

What Is Ovulation DysfunctionWithout properly functioning ovaries, it is impossible for a woman to conceive. And, some women suffer from ovary irregularities, causing them to have fertility problems. Fortunately, ovulation dysfunction in women under the age of 35 can often be treated.

When woman begin to experience infertility, they usually visit their doctors. And, because it is widely known among doctors that ovulation dysfunction is one of the leading causes of fertility problems—it is responsible for roughly 20 to 30% of all infertility cases—the ovaries are usually checked first.

In checking the ovaries, doctors must initially make sure that an egg is being produced each month. Normal egg production is regulated by hormones. First, gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) is produced by the hypothalamus. It goes to the pituitary gland, where it tells the pituitary gland to produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Then, FSH helps to mature the eggs and the hormone estrogen is produced. Once the estrogen levels are sufficient, the hypothalamus knows to signal a reduction in the production of FSH. After the eggs are mature, the hypothalamus then tells the pituitary to make a large burst of leutinizing hormone (LH). LH is the hormone that actually stimulates ovulation, or the release of the egg.

Because of all of the steps involved in producing a mature egg, one that is ready to be inseminated, it is easy to see how that process could be disrupted. There are reasons why ovulation dysfunction can occur.
One of the most common reasons why ovulation dysfunction can take place is because the woman has prematurely aging ovaries. Some women simply do not have as many eggs present in their ovaries because of their age. Also, when women attempt to conceive later in life, their eggs will not be as viable or likely to establish a pregnancy as those of younger women.

Another reason for ovulation dysfunction is hormonal imbalance. From the description above of how ovulation must take place, it is clear that there are several different hormones that are vital to the process. An imbalance of any of those hormones will cause problems with fertility. Hormone imbalances and aging ovaries are the two biggest causes of problems with the ovaries.

But, there are a few other possible causes. Stress is a cause of ovulation dysfunction. Both physical and mental stress can cause a woman to stop menstruating. Although this does not happen in all women, it is a very serious issue for some. The thyroid gland can cause problems that lead to ovulation dysfunction as well. Under-active thyroids and over-active thyroids are equally as likely to contribute to infertility in women. And, there are some women who are simply born with ovaries that cannot produce eggs.

Treatment for ovulation dysfunction depends upon the cause that is diagnosed. There are several fertility drugs that are commonly used for aging ovaries, hormonal imbalance causes, and possibly for thyroid problems. Stress is generally dealt with on an individual basis. For other causes, most women may end up turning to egg donors.

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