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Ovulation Disorders

Although ovulation disorders are one of the most common causes of infertility in women, effective treatment can overcome them. At the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center, our fertility experts specialize in finding the cause of ovulation disorders. We then work with you to decide on the best treatment plan to meet your needs.

Finding the Cause of Ovulation Disorders

Timing is everything when it comes to conception. The egg must be released from the ovary, and the sperm must then reach the egg in time to fertilize it. That’s why disturbances in ovulation can make it difficult to achieve a successful pregnancy.

Our team diagnoses ovulation disturbances and confirms whether ovulation has occurred using simple blood tests, including:

  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): We measure levels of this hormone to evaluate how well the thyroid gland is functioning. If the TSH level is high or low, it can affect a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy. We can measure TSH levels anytime during your cycle.
  • Prolactin: Elevated levels of this hormone may alter communication between the brain and the ovaries, leading to problems with ovulation or even a complete lack of menstrual cycles. Our team can measure prolactin levels before 10 a.m. on any day during your cycle (after 10 a.m., a natural rise in prolactin occurs).
  • Progesterone: Increased levels of progesterone confirm that ovulation has occurred. We measure progesterone levels approximately one week after you ovulate.

Tests to Diagnose Ovulation Disorders

Women are born with millions of eggs, but by age 35, that number is markedly lower. Egg quality also tends to decline with age. As a result, more eggs have chromosomal abnormalities that could impair a successful pregnancy.

At the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center, we offer several tests that can help predict how well you might respond to fertility medications that induce ovulation. These tests include:

  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Increased levels of FSH may indicate a decline in ovarian function. We may perform a baseline FSH test early in your menstrual cycle, usually on the third day.
  • Estradiol (E2): We monitor levels of estradiol (a form of estrogen) to assess ovarian function and follicle maturation (how well eggs are developing for release from the ovaries). We measure baseline levels of the hormone while testing FSH.
  • Antral follicle count: We perform an ultrasound early in your cycle to measure the number of small follicles in your ovaries. Understanding this number helps us assess how well your ovaries may respond to treatment. We also use this ultrasound to view the uterus and ovaries.
  • Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH): We can perform this blood test anytime during your cycle. It helps us assess how you might respond to ovary-stimulating medications as part of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process.

Treating Ovulation Disorders

Depending on your specific case, oral fertility medications that stimulate the ovaries to produce and release more eggs may be the right treatment option for you. If they don’t produce the desired results, your doctor may recommend injectable medications, which require close monitoring.

We commonly use ovary-stimulating medications in conjunction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Read more about fertility medications and ovulation induction.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University fertility and reproductive medicine specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.