13 reasons for not ovulating

When a woman isn’t ovulating, the medical term for it is anovulation. And there are several reasons for anovulation, most of which are caused by hormonal imbalances. Others could be as a result of dysfunction of the ovaries, medications or a medical condition.

In this article, I'll be explaining 13 causes of anovulation. 

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1. Birth control

Most birth control options stop ovulation in order to prevent pregnancy. I mean if there's no egg for the sperm to fertilize, there will be no pregnancy, smart right and I get it. You may even be aware and be like “oh I know that’ but there are many women who have no idea how their birth control works because they weren’t well informed. On the other hand, there are some with lasting effects meaning even after you go off it, it takes a while for your natural hormones kick in and ovulation begins again because your body has been so used to NOT ovulating. So you may want to review your birth control history.

2. Perimenopause

 You know when it comes to first periods, a lot of us are well aware of everything that happens. In my time, in boarding school, we couldn’t wait to get our periods because our friends had started to see their period and we were like “when is my own going to come like this” If you can relate drop a comment in the comment section. So back to the point, as we get older, say from the mid-30’s women experience something for the next 10 to 15 years no one really talks about. It’s called perimenopause. Our hormones begin to decline and fluctuate so you could see that ovulation begins to switch on and off in-between cycles. You ovulate in some months and you don’t ovulate in others. It’s absolutely normal and happens to a lot of us.

3. Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

This is a condition where a woman’s ovaries fail before 40. It’s also called premature or early menopause. For some women who experience this, there is no explanation as to why and for some others it could have been caused by certain medical conditions.  The next point is kind of similar but different. It is called:

4. Diminished Ovarian Reserve

When we are born, as women we are born with all the eggs we will ever need, millions of eggs and as we age they begin to reduce gradually until menopause. But for some women, they find out at some point in their reproductive years that they have fewer eggs than what is considered normal. 


This is a very common condition amongst women in their reproductive years. Women with PCOS have very high levels of the male hormones causing an appearance of small fluid-filled cysts containing immature eggs along the outer edge of the ovary. Women produce male hormones in small amounts so don't think where did that come from? This causes the egg follicles to remain small and not mature for ovulation so as a result, they may find it difficult to ovulate. Women with PCOS have very long cycles and while it may seem like ovulation is proven difficult, they still ovulate once in a while.

6. Overweight/High BMI

This can cause anovulation by increasing the level of male hormones like testosterone and other cases of hormonal imbalance mentioned here. 

7. Stress

 I know you may have heard about this quite a number of times. As a matter of fact,  it’s one of the questions you get asked by your doctor when you go in to complain about not ovulating or irregular periods. Some of us even say which stress, I don’t think I am stressed but the truth is many of us are.
When your body suffers high levels of stress, the brain figures this and starts the process of secreting a hormone called cortisol. As cortisol levels increase, your brain sees it as your body being in danger and takes steps to take you out of the danger zone into safety. And one of the ways, it does this is your brain making the decision and saying you know what, at this point, I don't think reproduction is a priority, stop the production of GnRH, this is the hormone that initiates the production of LH and FSH that cause ovulation. So your body shuts down reproduction and focuses on keeping you safe.

Managing stress is really important. We need to find ways to deal with stress. How do you manage stress? Tell me in the comments. You just may be saving another woman. There are a few other scenarios that cause anovulation similar to how stress works, that is; stopping the production of hormones that cause ovulation and they are:

8. Pituitary Tumour/Damage

Pituitary gland is located at the base of your brain and it produces certain very important hormones including those for ovulation. So if there’s a tumor which is mostly not cancerous pressing on it or if there’s a damage, it will prevent the production of the hormones for ovulation

9. Low body weight/Low BMI

Not enough weight will not provide the energy needed for the production of hormones for ovulation

10. Intense excercise

Continuing rigorous exercises for long periods can stop the production of hormones for ovulation

11. Undereating

When you don’t eat well enough, your body lacks the amount of calories needed to kickstart the brain to produce hormones needed for ovulation. 

12. Hyperprolactinemia

This is a condition in which the body produces very high amounts of the prolactin hormone. Prolactin is a hormone secreted for the production of breast milk. In pregnant or breastfeeding women, this hormone is very high. In women not pregnant or breastfeeding, it suppresses the production of the hormones for ovulation. It's why exclusive breastfeeding is used as a form of birth control.  And the last point is 

13. Low Thyroid Hormones

Your thyroid gland is located in your neck area. These gland produces hormones very necessary for ovulation. Low levels prevent ovulation from happening by increasing prolactin and you remember the previous point right. How prolactin, the breastfeeding hormone, works?  It suppresses the production of the hormones needed for ovulation. You may be worried after reading all of these, you shouldn't be. I tell women all the time; Irregular periods are more common than you think.

You can read my free guide 'Period Reset' below to learn the 4-step process for getting irregular periods back on track

Period reset Guide by Stephanie Nyong

You can learn more from this E-book I put together called “Period reset,” a guide showing a 4-step process for getting irregular periods back on track. Click here to get it


Do you have questions and concerns about your cycle and would like to speak to me about it to see if I can be of help. Click here to book a FREE 20minute discovery call

Would you like to learn how to chart your fertility signs correctly in order to track ovulation and time sex right? Get my short E-book 'How to get pregnant faster'

About Stephanie Nyong
I am a women's health advocate, author and a menstrual cycle coach teaching women to understand their unique menstrual cycle patterns and use their hormones to their advantage.

I am also the founder of Women's Health Platforms Foundation,  an NGO clinic in Abuja providing women with low-cost preventive healthcare services. 

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