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Home > Learn > Getting Pregnant > >Late Ovulation: Causes and Remedies

Late Ovulation: Causes and Remedies

Dec 01, 23 8 min

By OBGYN Dr. Kenosha Gleaton 

The menstrual cycle can tell you a lot about your body and may influence some facets of your health, including your chances of getting pregnant, underlying health conditions, mental health, and more. It’s normal to see some fluctuation in someone’s “average” cycle. Some people will have long menstrual cycles, others have short cycles, and some will be irregular and unpredictable. [1] 

In this article, we’re going to discuss the timing of ovulation- why it matters, why it might be late, and how to support regular ovulation. 

What Is Considered Late Ovulation?

One important phase of the menstrual cycle is ovulation. Ovulation refers to the release of a mature egg from an ovarian follicle. [1] For those trying to conceive or hoping to prevent pregnancy, understanding how to track and time ovulation is extremely important. This is because the days surrounding ovulation are known as the “fertile window” when someone is most likely to conceive. [1-2] 

A normal cycle will last somewhere between 21 and 35 days and may vary by a few days every month. Ovulation occurs roughly at about day 14 in a 28-day cycle, so about the halfway point between the start of menstruation. [1-2] “Late” ovulation can look different for everyone depending on their average cycle length but is generally categorized as late if it occurs on day 21 or later. [3] 

Is Late Ovulation Normal?

Fluctuations in the menstrual cycle are fairly common. It’s not unusual for someone to notice late ovulation occasionally. [4] In fact, one study found that only about 30% of people assigned female at birth had a fertile window entirely within days 10 and 17. [2] Cycle length, medications, stress, and other factors can all contribute to ovulation coming early or late. If you experience delayed ovulation regularly, however, or if you notice that your ovulation cycle is highly unpredictable, you should speak to a healthcare provider. 

Does Late Ovulation Cause Late Period?

Some people with delayed ovulation may also notice a later period or a longer menstrual cycle. [4] Some also experience heavier bleeding. [4] If your period is late and you believe you may be pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test to be sure. If you frequently have irregular cycles, you should speak to a healthcare provider. 

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Why Am I Ovulating Late? 

So what is the cause of late ovulation? It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider for information on your specific cycle, but here are a few factors that may influence ovulation and the rest of the menstrual cycle. 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in people assigned female at birth. It’s thought that up to 15% of AFAB people have PCOS. [5] There are many factors at play in those with PCOS, but two of the defining characteristics of this syndrome are irregular menstrual cycles and high levels of androgens, also known as “male” hormones. [5] It’s common to see changes in the length and duration of cycles in those with PCOS, which can also influence when and if ovulation occurs. [5] 

Hormone Levels

The menstrual cycle is highly dependent on the rise and fall of certain hormones. [1] In order for ovulation to occur, there needs to be an increase in both follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which contribute to the growth and release of a mature egg. [6] Other hormones and important endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, can also influence cycle regularity and ovulation. If hormone levels are abnormal, it’s possible to notice late or early cycles, missed menstrual cycles, and delayed ovulation. [1,6] If you have concerns about your hormone levels, speak to your provider about hormone testing. You can also test your hormones from home with the Women’s Fertility Test.  

Stress

Chronic stress can take a toll on your mental and physical health. There are many reasons someone may be experiencing stress, from domestic violence to financial worries. Research shows that chronic stress levels may have a negative impact on reproductive health, specifically cycle irregularities and ovulatory dysfunction. [7] 

Recent Pregnancy

Another common reason someone may be experiencing delayed ovulation or anovulatory cycles is a recent pregnancy. When someone is breastfeeding exclusively, the body naturally prevents menstruation or ovulation from occurring. [8] This is known as lactational amenorrhea (LA) and can delay ovulation for up to six months, sometimes longer. [8] Speak with your healthcare provider if you have questions about your menstrual cycle returning after giving birth. 

Medications

Certain medications, such as hormonal birth control, can prevent ovulation from occurring. [1,6] If you are taking any supplements or medications, be sure to speak with your provider about their impact on your menstrual cycle and fertility. 

What Does Late Ovulation Mean for Pregnancy?

Late ovulation does not make it impossible to get pregnant, but it can make it more difficult. For one, regular abnormal ovulation may point to infertility problems or underlying conditions that can make it difficult to conceive. If someone isn’t able to track ovulation or has a difficult time tracking ovulation, it can be hard to pinpoint their fertile window. If you are hoping to conceive soon, speak to your provider about your typical menstrual cycle. You can also learn more about ovulation using a free ovulation calculator or our ovulation tests and tracker.  

How to Treat Late Ovulation

In many cases, there are ways to encourage healthy ovulation and menstrual cycle regularity. The first step in treating delayed ovulation is to get to the root of the problem. What is causing late ovulation? Is it PCOS, a thyroid condition, high levels of stress, or a certain medication? Speak to your healthcare provider about the potential cause of your abnormal cycle and what management or treatment methods may be right for you. 

Treating Underlying Conditions

PCOS is a common cause of abnormal cycles and impaired ovulation. There is no cure for PCOS, but there are ways to manage the condition through medications, lifestyle changes, and more. [5] Other conditions that may be impacting hormone levels and reproductive health include thyroid disease, endometriosis, hyperprolactinemia, and others. Proper treatment or management of these conditions may lead to improved outcomes, including regular menstrual cycles. [5] 

Lifestyle Changes

Certain lifestyle factors may lead to irregular menstrual cycles and hinder someone’s ability to conceive. One study found that weight loss can increase the chances of conceiving by helping to regulate the menstrual cycle. [9] Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting regular physical activity, adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and healthy stress management. You can also get a better understanding of your “normal” cycle by consistently tracking your ovulation. Use LH strips and ovulation calculators to maximize your success. 

Supplements for Fertility and Ovulation Support

While there isn’t a cure-all for irregular cycles or late ovulation, there are some supplements that can support egg quality, embryo quality, and regular ovulation. For example, inositol is a supplement that has been shown to support fertility outcomes in some populations. Inositol has been shown to facilitate healthy ovulation and improve egg and embryo quality [10]. CoQ10 is also a beneficial supplement, with data supporting its role in improving egg quality and sperm parameters [10-11]. Remember to always speak to your healthcare provider about supplements before adding any to your vitamin routine. 

Fertility Treatments

Additionally, if someone is concerned that their late or irregular ovulation is hindering their ability to conceive, they should speak to their provider about fertility treatment options. Ovulation induction medications, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and other fertility treatment methods may be able to improve your chances. 

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Natalist Helps You Support and Track Ovulation

While every situation is tied to many unique factors, I hope that you’ve found some guidance in the above information. Late ovulation is just one of many problems related to the menstrual cycle that can impact your ability to conceive. Fortunately, there are ways to support cycle regularity and learn more about your ovulation cycle. Shop Natalist ovulation tests and TTC supplements like CoQ10 and Inositol, or keep reading on the Natalist blog. 



References:

  1. Thiyagarajan DK, Basit H, Jeanmonod R. Physiology, Menstrual Cycle. [Updated 2022 Oct 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500020/
  2. Wilcox AJ, Dunson D, Baird DD. The timing of the "fertile window" in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study. BMJ. 2000;321(7271):1259-1262. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7271.1259
  3. Late Ovulation: Can You Ovulate Late And Still Get Pregnant? Womens Care of Bradenton, Topline MD Alliance. June 2022. https://www.toplinemd.com/womens-care-of-bradenton/blog/late-ovulation-can-you-ovulate-late-and-still-get-pregnant/
  4. Kay, Carolyn. Leonard, Jayne. Late ovulation: Causes and chances of conceiving. Medical News Today. July 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/late-ovulation#seeing-a-doctor
  5. Rasquin LI, Anastasopoulou C, Mayrin JV. Polycystic Ovarian Disease. [Updated 2022 Nov 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459251/
  6. Holesh JE, Bass AN, Lord M. Physiology, Ovulation. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441996/
  7. Vigil P, Meléndez J, Soto H, Petkovic G, Bernal YA, Molina S. Chronic Stress and Ovulatory Dysfunction: Implications in Times of COVID-19. Front Glob Womens Health. 2022;3:866104. Published 2022 May 23. doi:10.3389/fgwh.2022.866104
  8. Vekemans M. Postpartum contraception: the lactational amenorrhea method. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 1997;2(2):105-111. doi:10.3109/13625189709167463
  9. Pandey S, Pandey S, Maheshwari A, Bhattacharya S. The impact of female obesity on the outcome of fertility treatment. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2010;3(2):62-67. doi:10.4103/0974-1208.69332
  10. Vitagliano A, Petre GC, Francini-Pesenti F, et al. Dietary Supplements for Female Infertility: A Critical Review of Their Composition. Nutrients. 2021;13(10):3552. Published 2021 Oct 11. doi:10.3390/nu13103552
  11. Ahmadi S, Bashiri R, Ghadiri-Anari A, Nadjarzadeh A. Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence based review. Int J Reprod Biomed. 2016;14(12):729-736.
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