If you have not become pregnant after a year of trying there is a one in three chance that this is caused by your ovaries not regularly producing eggs.
Irregular periods is one indication that you might not be ovulating – releasing an egg once a month – the most common cause is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) whilst other reasons include weight gain, weight loss, stress or an underlying health issue.
It is good to have your ovulation checked with blood tests if you are trying to conceive, particularly if there is a family history of early menopause.
What happens when you ovulate?
In a natural cycle, hormones from the brain tell the follicles in a woman’s ovaries to produce an egg – and once a month a ‘ripe’ egg will then be released into the fallopian tube ready to be fertilised by a single sperm.
Women are most fertile within a day or two either side of an egg being released from the ovaries. This usually occurs around 14 days after the beginning of a period, but it can vary between 11-16 days.
Sperm can survive inside the body for several days, so unprotected sex every 2-3 days about this time of the month will give the best chance of getting pregnant.
So what can be done to boost your ovulation?
Ovulation is controlled by hormones, and this can be disrupted if you are overweight. The ideal BMI for fertility is 19- 25 so if your BMI is above 30, the first course of action is to lose weight as this can kick-start ovulation. This can be more difficult if you have PCOS so get some support to help you do this – a nutritionist can advise how to change your diet and there are keep fit classes designed to help with weight loss.
For those that are not overweight or have succeeded in losing weight but are still not ovulating the next step may be to see a fertility doctor to discuss the option of ovulation induction.
How successful is Ovulation Induction?
At Bourn Hall about 30 per cent of women experiencing fertility problems and referred for diagnosis become pregnant naturally after Ovulation Induction treatment (OI).
The choice of drugs is made by a fertility expert after careful assessment.
During an ovulation induction cycle you will have ultrasound scans and blood tests to ensure that just one egg is maturing and ready for release. You will then be given a time window when natural conception is most likely to occur.