Four natural ways to help regulate ovulation

posted on June 18, 2016 by Emily Kennedy Emily Kennedy

Ovulation is a sign of health. The regular monthly release of an egg is a sign that your hormones are at optimal levels and, for the most part, balanced. Not ovulating–though you still might menstruate–often means that something is awry.  Most commonly that “something” is stress, but don’t ignore signs of anovulation just because “it’s just stress.”

Anovulation can also mean that there are imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels that could increase your risk of bone loss (osteoporosis), early heart attack and even breast cancer.[1]

girl by the sea

 

Here is what you need to know about delayed or absence of ovulation and ways that can help fix it.

Signs of anovulation

A new study shows that “silent anovulation”—cycles that appear normal but in which no egg is released—is more common than we may think. Up to 37 percent of pre-menopausal women may be anovulatory. While this study has some major limitations, including inaccurate timing of progesterone testing, it raises serious concerns for women’s health.

How do you know if you’re ovulating? There’s lots written on the Internet on this topic, but it’s not always accurate. Best practices for detecting ovulation without the help of a medical doctor include: charting cervical fluid and/or basal body temperature and confirming a “peak day” with the help of a qualified fertility appreciation instructor, testing for a surge in a luteinizing hormone (LH), documenting Mittelschmerz and/or breast pain. We encourage women to learn a proven method with an instructor who can help them learn to read their unique charts. Even if they’re going to use an app.

The classic anovulatory woman has irregular periods, long cycles, or even no cycle at all. Indeed, 20% of anovulatory women are amenorrheic [2], lacking periods. She may also have signs of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which cysts (unruptured follicles) build up in the ovary.

If you think you are having trouble ovulating, charting the aforementioned signs of ovulation would help you discover what hormonal imbalances may be causing the issue.

Ovulation, Natural Womanhood, Human fertilization, Blausen

This illustration of fertilization from Wikipedia shows nicely the process of ovulation.

Easy factors to eliminate

Common but overlooked factors contributing to ovulatory dysfunction include:

  • Low body weight
  • Poor diet, i.e. lacking in essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats
  • Excessive athletic training
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Stress (as mentioned above)[3]

Hence some simple changes to improve your body’s healthy ability to ovulate include:

  • Increasing one’s body weight. First, determine your BMI. If it’s low, then gradually increase your caloric intake to achieve a slightly higher body mass.
  • Swap low carb for slow carb. If you’ve been skipping grains, fruit and starchy vegetables, gradually add back some whole grains, delicious fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes and peas that contain sugars that release slowly into your bloodstream. Bonus: Your ability to cope with stress may improve!
  • Add some good fats – including animal fat. Steak? Yes, please. Preferably grass-fed for an optimal fatty acid profile. Keep eating the avocados and oily fish, but don’t forget your red meat!
  • Improve your sleep, not just the length but the quality of your rest. Easy changes to do so include making your bedroom darker (or using a sleep mask), regular bedtime and waking hours, adjusting the room temperature. Also, avoid or reduce any caffeine intake or smoking at least six hours before bed. Add a bedtime routine that includes a time of meditation or prayer, a good read, and no digital screen exposure at least an hour before bed. More about sleep here and here.

These are just a few broad suggestions for supporting ovulation through your food and lifestyle choices.

If you have already made these changes effectively and your cycles are still not functioning normally, you need to consult a physician who will be able to understand the unique pattern of your cycles and hormonal levels and diagnose the root cause of this problem. Using contraceptives to regulate your cycle may reduce symptoms and hide such dysfunctions, but will NOT eliminate them. You can find a list of medical professionals who will find the cause of anovulation and treat it at the bottom of this page.

Be well,

Emily Kennedy

[1] http://news.nationalpost.com/health/trying-to-get-pregnant-a-regular-period-doesnt-guarantee-ovulation-according-to-new-canadian-research?__lsa=8a79-354e

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anovulation

[3] http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/infertility.html

Posted by Emily Kennedy Emily Kennedy
Emily Kennedy, MSc is a nutritionist health coach and fertility educator in Raleigh, NC. She loves all things natural and evidence-based, especially if it leads to something good to eat.

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