Did I Ovulate?
How to know with PCOS
PCOS is the most common reason for not ovulating (1). The hormone imbalance of PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, leads to ovulation irregularities or not ovulating (anovulation). This makes it hard for women with PCOS to get pregnant.
I thought getting pregnant would be as easy as having my IUD removed. But 6 months later I had a period that came anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 months and I still wasn’t pregnant. What was going on?
Turns out I wasn’t ovulating
What is Ovulation?
Ovulation is the main event of your cycle. During the first part of your cycle FSH, Follicular Stimulating Hormone, rises to prepare a follicle into an egg, then LH, luteinizing hormone, spikes causing your body to ovulate. Ovulation is when you release a mature egg that is ready for fertilization with a sperm.
Your fertile window of ovulation lasts approximately 24 hours before the egg degrades and your body prepares for its next period. Without ovulation you can’t become pregnant.
How To Know When I’m Ovulating?
Unlike your period, ovulation is easy to miss. Very few women pay any attention to ovulation unless they are trying to get pregnant. This might be the first time you realize something isn’t quite right.
It’s completely natural to become more aware of your cycle when you want to get pregnant. Your extra interest and attention to your monthly cycle is the first step to reversing your PCOS and also to getting pregnant.
If you have a hormone disorder such as PCOS, OPK’s or ovulation predictor kits are not very useful. They measure your rise in LH hormone, but this hormone is often abnormally elevated in PCOS to begin with. These results in a false positive high fertility day but no peak fertility day results.
One method of becoming more in tune with your body is to track your cervical mucus and position. While these options provide you with a little information about your cycle, I recommend tracking your basal body temperature, BBT. BBT is the best at home method to determine if and when you are ovulating each month. You can learn more about tracking your basal body temperature here.
Signs and Symptoms of Anovulation
- Cycles lasting longer than 35 days might be a sign that you are not ovulating.
- An irregular cycle or no menstrual cycle
- Absence of mid cycle sore and tender breasts and possible cramping at time of ovulation.
- Lack of cervical mucus or no change in your cervical mucus.
- An irregular temperature chart that doesn’t show a clear cycle pattern
- Not getting pregnant after several months of trying to conceive.
Why am I Not Ovulating
There are several reasons for not ovulating. You might skip a month due to lack of sleep, stress or other short term factors and this is of little concern. Consistently skipping ovulation is when it becomes a concern.
PCOS is the most common reason for not ovulating, accounting for 70% of cases (1). The good news is that with a little assistance most women with PCOS get pregnant and have one or more children even without any fertility treatment (2).
What to do about anovulation
If you have recently stopped hormone birth control, it can take time to recover. But, I don’t recommend just waiting and hoping for the best. This is the best time to recognize your body is struggling to regain its rhythm. You can help your body with some tender loving care. Remove any stressors you can, get plenty of quality sleep and provide your body with the nourishment it needs.
You can read about how to create a conceivable cycle here.
When to get help
While getting pregnant can take time, I recommend seeing your doctor anytime you feel something isn’t quite right. If your cycles are irregular it doesn’t hurt to run a few tests and check your hormones.
I also recommend seeking help from a PCOS specialist if you would like to conceive naturally. In my experience doctors do not have a lot of assistance to offer in this area other than to suggest weight loss if you have a BMI over 25. There are a lot of nuances and lifestyle measures that make a tremendous difference. Your doctor and the medical system isn’t equipped to help you with lifestyle in a 15 minutes appointment.
If you’re ready to balance your hormones naturally, here is my PCOS Fertility Meal Guide
This is a fantastic place to start! Nourishing your body and rebalancing your hormone will improve your chances of getting pregnant even if you choose to pursue infertility treatments.
Can you relate to how I felt when I went off of hormonal birth control? I felt like I should be able to get pregnant in the first month or two. I mean, all my friends were….
When we go off of hormonal birth control, our hormones have actually been shut off and we have instead replaced them with the synthetic hormones.
If you have a condition such as PCOS, the pill, or hormonal birth control, can uncover it or exacerbate it.
Have you heard, “just give it three to six months and your hormones should balance out again”….think again! When you have PCOS and are coming off birth control. Your period may not come back right away or at all!
When you are trying to naturally heal your PCOS or a hormone imbalance of any kind or just coming off of birth control, it’s really important to be listening to your body cues because your body is telling you what is and isn’t working.
OPKs? Ovulation predictor kits are a go to for most women who are trying to get pregnant. But are they the best option for PCOS?
What is the best way to track your cycle and know when you are ovulating (fertile) each month?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, knowing your twenty four hour fertile window each month is so important.
If your cycles are irregular, you won’t know when that next one is coming unless you’re tracking.
Ashlene Korcek PA-C
Hi there! I’m Ashlene Korcek, the PCOS Mama and founder of Nourished to Healthy
I help women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome balance their hormones naturally so that they can take back control of their bodies, boost their fertility, and ultimately live free from the symptoms of PCOS. Like you, I have PCOS, I was diagnosed while struggling with infertility and was told I likely would never have children. Even as a board-certified Physician Assistant I felt lost about what to do and very alone! Fast forward 5 years and I have 3 healthy children, but I never want another woman to feel lost and alone the way I did!
You can break free from the downward spiral of PCOS and feel amazing in your own skin again!
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