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Houston Fertility Center

Understanding the Reproductive System: Ovulation Disorders

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on September 29, 2015

An illustration of a woman’s reproductive system, including the ovariesAt Houston Fertility Center, our team comprises a group of women specializing in the fertility care of women. Led by acclaimed infertility treatment specialist Sonja Kristiansen, our team focuses on every aspect of the female reproductive experience, including the disorders that can contribute to female factor infertility. We have a unique understanding of such disorders, which puts us in an equally unique position to provide effective treatments for them.

Among the disorders we commonly diagnose and treat are ovulation disorders. At Houston Fertility Center, ovulation disorders are regularly identified as the primary cause or one of the primary causes of female infertility. Often, it is possible to restore a woman’s fertility by treating the ovulation disorder, making IVF or another infertility treatment entirely unnecessary.

It may be helpful to think of ovulation not as a single event in which an egg is released from the ovary, but as a series of events, the timing of which must be more or less perfect for fertility to be optimal. If something goes wrong during this series of events, fertility can be adversely affected.

Below, you will find information about some of the more common ovulation disorders. We invite you to read this information and then contact our fertility center for further information or to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Kristiansen.

Common Ovulation Disorders

Ovulation disorders account for approximately one-quarter of all cases of infertility. Any disorder in which ovulation occurs infrequently or not at all can be classified as an ovulation disorder, whether it involves a problem with the ovaries or not.

Common ovulation disorders include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is caused by a hormonal imbalance that interferes with ovulation. Its name comes from the most common symptom, which is the development of small cysts on the ovaries. Other symptoms include weight gain, acne, the growth of unwanted facial and body hair, loss of hair on the scalp, and depression. Some women experience few or no periods while others experience heavy, nearly unrelenting bleeding. PCOS is the single most common cause of female infertility.
  • Lack of ovaries or lack of eggs: Some patients are born without ovaries, while other patients run out of eggs before the age of 35. These latter patients are diagnosed with premature menopause.
  • Hypothalamic dysfunction: Ovulation is stimulated by the release of two hormones by the pituitary gland during the menstrual cycle: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The release of these hormones can be disrupted by being dramatically over- or underweight, being overly stressed, or physical exertion.
  • Excess production of prolactin: Prolactin is the hormone responsible for the production of breast milk. If the pituitary gland produces too much prolactin, often due to the development of a type of pituitary tumor called a prolactinoma, it can reduce the production of FSH, which is necessary to ovulation.

Learn More about Ovulation Disorders

To learn more about ovulation disorders, or to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Sonja Kristiansen, please contact our fertility clinic today.

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