What anovulation is and how it plays a role in fertility
How a lack in certain minerals causes anovulation
How to incorporate more of these key minerals into your diet
All About Anovulation
What is it?
Ovulation, or the release of an egg from a woman’s ovaries, is part of a woman’s natural menstrual cycle that usually occurs about two weeks before she expects to get her period. Once an egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tubes where it can meet up with a sperm cell and viola--fertilization.
However, the release of that egg does not always occur. Anovulation occurs when a woman does not release an egg as expected during her menstrual cycle. The difficulty with anovulation is that a woman can appear to bleed normally, or even heavily, and there seems to be no way to tell that her body didn’t release an egg like it was expected to. Everything seems normal and functioning.
So how do you know if anovulation occured?
There are two main age groups that anovulation occurs at. Those are girls who’ve recently begun their period, and anovulation can occur for up to the first year after she’s started menstruating. And then there are women who are close to menopause and have greater risks for changes in their hormones.
The main causes for women to have anovulatory cycles are:
If you’re having a period every 24 to 35 days, it’s likely (but not guaranteed) that you’re ovulating normally. However, anovulation can occur as a singular almost random event for some women and be a chronic issue for others. Around 30% of infertility cases can be attributed to anovulation.
Thankfully, there are ways for your doctor to check for anovulation. Those include:
A study performed by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) used BioCycle Study data to better understand the factors contributing to reproductive hormones and health. The study had 259 healthy and regularly menstruating women complete questionnaires on their diet and lifestyle and were monitored over two cycles.
87% of BioCycle participants completed four diet surveys per menstrual cycle, recalling what they ate or drank in the pas 24 hours. The researchers used this to check for links between mineral levels, reproductive hormone levels and anovulation risks.
The research team found that sodium intake below the recommended daily allowance (1500 mg) was associated with higher levels of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, lower prostrogerene levels and increased risk for sporadic anovulation when compared to sufficient sodium intake. Similarly, manganese levels below the recommended daily allowance (1.8 mg) was associated with an increased risk of anovulation.
So, what does this mean?
Get Those Minerals, Girl
Increasing your intake of sodium and manganese can help with anovulation, as well as maintaining your weight and not obsessively exercising, but those things would be a whole other post altogether. For now, let’s focus on getting those vitamins, girl.
Sodium has gotten a lot of bad press for being a contributing factor to high blood pressure, which makes the heart work harder and can contribute to heart disease. But there have been no statistically found links between lowering sodium intake and reduced mortality or reduced blood pressue.
Reduce your daily intake of water: water dilutes the level of sodium in your blood; women should be drinking 2.2 L of water a day, however this can vary depending on weather and exercise
Drink electrolyte infused drinks; sports drinks typically have electrolytes, including sodium, that should be replenished as they are sweat out
Sprinkle salt on your food as you see fit; it is best to consume unrefined varieties of salt, such as sea salt and Himalayan pink salt, as they contain trace nutrients which can be beneficial
Manganese is considered an essential mineral as it helps the body to function normally. It is involved in the processing of cholesterol, carbohydrates and protein. People take manganese for osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, anemia and a whole slew of other things.
To increase manganese levels in your diet:
Increase your intake of pineapple, nuts such as pecans and almonds and brown rice and wheat bread
Consider adding a manganese supplement to your diet
Obviously don’t go crazy and sprinkle an entire shaker of salt from the shaker onto your tongue. But sodium and manganese levels lower than the recommended daily intake have been linked to anovulation, which is a major cause of infertility in women. For more on fertility help and what to eat when you’re trying to conceive, check out eIVF's other posts on what you (and your partner) should be eating and doing to increase your fertility.
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