Cycle Health

Ovulatory dysfunction is the absence of ovulation or abnormal ovarian activity.   This is a major cause of infertility, repeat miscarriage, and the other troubling gynaecological symptoms.  Women with reproductive abnormalities are often prescribed hormonal contraceptives as a way to regulate hormones and cycles.  The bleeds produced by contraceptives are not true menstrual bleeds.  

Hormonal birth control does not augment or regulate a woman’s hormones, but rather suppresses them completely.  Hormonal contraceptives may alleviate some of the symptoms, but do not correct the underlying problem.   Dr. Mary Martin outlines the 5 most common underlying causes of an interference with healthful ovulation, so keep reading!

Keeping a chart of your cycles and your cervical mucus patterns will help in the diagnosis of your condition and planning your treatment. And if you’re trying to conceive, your chart will help you work out which cycles might be fertile ones and which ones are not.  An Accredited Billings Ovulation Method® teacher will help you make sense of your chart and support you in seeking the appropriate medical assistance for restoring hormonal health and fertility, which may include an evaluation of your symptoms and a letter for your doctor outlining testing recommendations.


Bleeding that’s Heavy, Painful, or Prolonged

Fibroids or polyps may be present.   Those grow due to being hyper-estrogenic, which is the result of a continual disruption with the ovulation process.   Identifying and treating the underlying cause of the disturbance helps to restore normal ovulation, which improves cycles and bleeding.

Low progesterone

Low progesterone is a symptom of a disturbance with follicular development.  By identifying and treating the root cause of the disturbance, natural progesterone levels can self correct. Supplemental progesterone can help manage symptoms, but does not correct the underlying disturbance which causes this in the first place.  The underlying hormonal imbalance can continue to inhibit optimal health, even when the symptoms of low progesterone are managed.   Once supplementation is discontinued, the symptoms may return as the underlying hormone imbalance still exists.   


This is a condition where the endometrium develops and grows outside the uterus. The fallopian tubes, ovaries, urinary organs or intestinal organs may be affected.  It occurs due to being hyper-estrogenic over a prolonged period of time, because of an interference with healthful ovulation.

About 30 to 40 percent of women with the condition may experience infertility because of scarring in their reproductive organs. Symptoms vary, but may include irregular and heavy menstruation, pain during sex, and pelvic pain for a few days before and during menstruation. By being familiar with your normal patterns of cervical mucus you are likely to detect this problem at an early stage because the pattern may not develop normally.


Adrenal and ovarian hormone abnormalities are the most frequent cause of ovarian dysfunction, and the most common example of this is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS.  This condition can present with a variety of symptoms in a variety of combinations!  PCOS is often connected to insulin resistance, which causes high insulin levels. Their ovaries and adrenal glands may also be producing too much testosterone. These hormonal imbalances mean that the follicle containing the developing ovum can’t mature properly. Often the ovum doesn’t get released from the ovary, so there is no ovulation. The struggling follicle keeps making more testosterone, and this interferes with the ovulatory process. It isn’t long before many of these tiny cysts cover the ovaries.

If you have PCOS, you may have had irregular cycles since you first began menstruating.  Other symptoms can include acne, hirsutism, and weight gain, but some women have none of these symptoms. When keeping your chart you may notice a continuous fertile type of mucus pattern, or days of sticky or slippery mucus forming no progressive pattern to a Peak of fertility.

All of these types of conditions can point to the presence of an underlying hormonal imbalance which may be fairly simple to treat.   Below are the 5 most common underlying imbalances, as outlined by Dr. Mary Martin of the Billings Center for Fertility & Reproductive Medicine in Oklahoma City, OK.    A Basic Hormone Panel (ask your Accredited Instructor for more information) is highly recommended to test for these imbalances. 


1. Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance causes an interference with ovulation and increases the risk of developing diabetes. Insulin and glucose levels should be measured, and medication, diet and exercise may be prescribed to treat the insulin resistance. Regulating insulin levels and restoring glucose balance can help control testosterone production as well. This will help restore normal ovulation and regular cycles.   

2. Hyperprolactemia

Prolactin is a hormone associated with breastfeeding, but sometimes high levels of this hormone develop after taking certain medications or due to conditions like a pituitary tumour or a hormone imbalance like hypothyroidism. The excess prolactin interferes with the hormones that control the growth of the follicles. Women with this hormonal disorder may not menstruate at all, have irregular bleeding or they may have short cycles with pre-menstrual spotting. Hyperprolactinaemia can be treated with medication.   

3. Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism

Women with thyroid hormone imbalances may have irregular menstrual cycles with long gaps between menstruations, which may be heavy and prolonged or unusually light.  Pre and post menstrual spotting can also be a symptom.  Abnormal patterns of cervical mucus can help to  identify a thyroid abnormality. 

4. Inflammation

Inflammation results in inflammatory fluid which forms a slimy capsule around the ovary.   This impedes and interferes with healthful ovulation.  Inflammatory processes of the reproductive system are the second most frequent cause of infertility.   Some examples of conditions which may produce this inflammatory response: endometriosis, food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome, STI’s. 

5. Elevated Cortisol

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone.  One of the principal effects of elevated cortisol is to thwart the effect of insulin, rendering the body’s cells insulin resistant.   Cortisol is made from progesterone and these compete for common receptors on the cell.  High cortisol impairs progesterone, which leads to estrogen dominance.  High cortisol can also lead to thyroid resistance.

Read more in Australian Doctor

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