Ovulation disorders i.e. a woman ovulating less frequently or not at all, are a major cause of infertility in women. These may be caused by problems in the monitoring of reproductive hormone production by the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, or by problems in the structure of the ovary itself.
Following are the most common causes of ovulation disorders
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of infertility. In PCOS, due to complex changes in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries, hormonal imbalance is caused which affects ovulation. PCOS is commonly characterized by resistance to insulin, obesity, irregular hair growth on the face and/or body and acne.
- Hypothalamic dysfunction. The two hormones responsible for ovulation every month, that is the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), are produced by the pituitary gland in a specific pattern throughout the menstrual cycle. Excessive physical or emotional stress, very high or very low body weight, or a recent weight gain or loss can change this pattern and affect ovulation. This is often observed through missed periods.
- Premature ovarian insufficiency. This disorder is caused by an autoimmune response by the body where it mistakenly attacks ovarian tissues, or by premature loss of eggs from the ovary due to genetic disorders, or environmental changes such as chemotherapy and radiation. It results in the loss of the ovaries' ability to produce eggs, and a decreased estrogen production.
- Excessive secretion of prolactin. Rarely, the pituitary gland causes excess production of prolactin, which in turn reduces estrogen production and may cause infertility. Often this is due to problems in the pituitary gland, but it can also rarely be related to medications and drugs the woman may be taking for another condition.
- Female ovulation can be stimulated by using fertility drugs, which work like FSH and LH hormones.
- In some cases, surgical procedures may be recommended to facilitate ovulation.
- The surgical procedures may be to either remove any blockages or outgrowths in the pelvic organs