Find out why you might not be ovulating and having regular periods. Everybody is unique, find answers to your not-ovulating but regular cycle concerns here.
Infertile but having periods
It might not seem possible, but you can have a period every month and still struggle with fertility too. The main cause for infertility is due to a problem with ovulation, the stage during your cycle where an egg is released for fertilisation.
There are other reasons why you might not be able to get pregnant but are still having a period:
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue, usually found in the uterus, grows in other places- such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Its a long-term condition and can cause a range of symptoms including:
- Heavy and painful periods
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex, or after sex
- Pain when using the loo
Endometriosis can also make it difficult to get pregnant, thought to be due to damage and scarring to the fallopian tubes or ovaries.
This 2010 study found that “Infertile women are 6 to 8 times more likely to have endometriosis than fertile women,” and concluded that surgery could be an option for women who wanted to get pregnant.
Despite these stats, Endometriosis UK say: “Even with severe endometriosis, natural conception is still possible. It is estimated that 60-70% of those with endometriosis can get pregnant spontaneously,” adding that some women will use IVF to get pregnant, and others will have success after surgery.
Being severely overweight can also have an affect on your cycle and your ability to get pregnant. A 2018 study concluded that overweight and obese women needed ‘a longer time to get pregnant’ due to their high BMI.
The study found that obesity had a negative impact on ovarian function which affected ovulation. It noted that overweight women with a regular cycle have an imbalance of hormones, and that extra fat cells in the body inhibit the normal working functions of the reproductive organs as a whole. Obese women are also, the report found, 40% more likely to suffer miscarriage if they are able to conceive.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that are found in and around the uterus. They’re usually detected during a routine examination such as a smear test- and for most women, they don’t cause any issues or symptoms. For some women though, they may experience:
- Long and heavy periods
- Pain during sex
- Lower back or pelvic pain
- Needing to use the loo more than usual
- Bleeding between periods
According to reproductivefacts.org, fibroids can affect fertility in a few ways, with between 5-10% of women affected. They can also cause issues during pregnancy if conception does occur.
Uterine fibroids can change the shape of the cervix, liming the number of sperm that are able to enter the uterus. There can also be potential blockages in the fallopian tubes, preventing the egg from travelling, plus the lining the uterus can be affected too.
Uterine fibroids can be treated; speak to your doctor about the options available to you.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) cans sometimes be the cause of infertility even when you’re having a period. The NHS advises that repeat occurrences or complications can cause the scarring which can make it difficult to conceive.
Sexually transmitted diseases, particularly if left untreated, can cause infertility. If you suspect you may have an STD, make an appointment with your GP or sexual health clinic as soon as possible for treatment.
Fertility peaks around your late 20s, after which the number of eggs your body is storing begins to decrease. The older you get, the more chances there are that the eggs remaining aren’t as healthy either.
By the age of around 45-50, lots of women also experience perimenopause symptoms, which is the transitional period before menopause. Periods become irregular as the body produces less oestrogen, and ovulation is less predictable each month.
However, until you reach menopause (and you haven’t had a period for more than 12 months), you can still get pregnant- the chances are just lower due to your age.
Various lifestyle factors can also affect fertility. Smoking, drinking alcohol, stress and poor diet are all linked to difficulties conceiving. Many of these factors can also impact your period when it comes to how heavy your flow is, PMS symptoms is and how painful your cramps are each month.
Take steps to reduce stress, improve your diet and exercise regularly to maintain better health. Its a good idea to prioritise sleep, too.
What happens during a period?
To understand how periods might occur without ovulation, its important to know what happens during a period.
Your menstrual cycle happens in stages. Day one of your cycle is menstruation, where you bleed. This blood flow is made up of an unfertilised egg, along with vaginal fluids and other tissues. This is the follicular stage, and once the bleeding has stopped your body starts preparing for the whole thing to happen again.
During the follicular phase, follicles form on the ovaries in order to develop eggs. One egg will become mature enough to be released, and this take place during the shortest phase of your cycle, ovulation.
During ovulation, the egg travels down the fallopian tubes to- hopefully- be fertilised. If this doesn’t happen, it’s reabsorbed into the body during the luteal phase, and then released as part of your period. Then the entire cycle begins again.
A period without ovulation
A period without ovulation is called anovulatory bleeding, and the cycle as a whole is called an anovulatory cycle. This means that ovulation hasn’t take place- no egg has been released for fertilisation. So how does a period happen without ovulation?
Anovulatory bleeding is common, and can happen when you first start your periods as your cycle is still regulating. It can also occur due to perimenopause, or with people suffering from PCOS.
Why does this happen?
Having a period without ovulation is due to a disruption of the hormones that trigger the process during your cycle. During ovulation, levels of oestrogen and progesterone are at their highest and a surge in luteinising hormone and follicle stimulation hormone levels also takes place. This stimulates the release of the egg. If these levels are disrupted, the egg cannot be released.
In addition, higher than normal levels of androgens can hamper the follicle’s ability to develop an egg sufficiently for ovulation- such as is the case with PCOS.
Lack of ovulation can also be down to pituitary gland disfunction, low levels of thyroid hormones or high levels of prolactin too.
If you track your cycle, you will be more informed about the changes that are taking place in your body each month. There are several signs to look out for when you ovulate, including:
- Cervical mucus- this will be clear and slippery during ovulation.
- Basal body temperature- this will be slightly higher after ovulation has taken place, so you should see a rise during this phase of your cycle.
You can also use ovulation predictor kits for a more accurate indication of whether or not you’re ovulating. If you believe that you’re not ovulating but you’re having a period each month, speak to your GP about finding out the reasons why.
Why Am I ovulating and not getting pregnant?
Try not to panic. There could be a wide range of reasons why you’re having a period but not ovulating, so make an appointment with your doctor to discuss.
Tracking your cycle for at least three months is also helpful and can give you lots of insight into what could be happening.
I have a regular cycle but am not ovulating
If you’re having a period each month and your cycle is regular, but you know that you’re not ovulating, it’s important to find out why. There could be an imbalance in the hormones that are need to trigger ovulation, or there could be another medicalcondition that requires treatment.
Keep a track of your cycle and any other symptoms you may be experiencing, so that you can discuss these with your GP.
Why am I not ovulating but having regular periods?
There are certain medical conditions that can cause regular periods without ovulation. It could also be down to an imbalance in hormones. Its important to speak to a doctor so that you can find out the reasons why this is happening.
Its also a good idea to track your cycle so that you can have a better idea of what’s going on with your body each month.
What are the signs of not ovulating?
Being unable to get pregnant is usually the first sign to many that they may not be ovulating. Irregular periods are also a major sign that something isn’t right with your cycle. You may be experiencing a longer time between periods, heavier or lighter bleeding than usual, or bleeding between periods too.
You can take an ovulation predictor test and monitor your ovulation that way too.
What can cause not ovulating?
There are many reasons why you may not be ovulating, including certain medical conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and uterine fibroids. Lifestyle factors can also play a role, as can hormone imbalances.
Talk to your doctor to discuss what could be happening.
Can you have a period and not ovulate?
Yes, you can have a period and not ovulate. This is called anovulatory bleeding and it’s quite common. There are many reasons why this could happen; speak to your doctor to discuss the potential reasons why.