Ovarian Reserve & FertilityAn ovarian cycle follows a natural progression, from the very beginning of the egg growing in its follicle to actual ovulation that releases, typically, one egg from one follicle.

Ovarian Cycle Explained

There's an expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. It's from a Chinese proverb. Below is a picture that shows a healthy ovarian cycle. One thing to note is that there are often many secondary follicles, containing eggs that do not mature. In a typical ovarian cycle, (not a medicated or fertility treatment cycle) one egg matures and is released. The secondary follicles, where eggs do not mature, are reabsorbed by the body.  And although women are born with all the eggs that they will ever have, about two million eggs, in each menstrual cycle there are many eggs that start to develop and then are no longer viable for another ovarian cycle.   

Ovarian Cycle Explained

Diminished Ovarian Reserve

This process, along with eggs aging, are reasons why even with hundreds of thousands of eggs left, it can be difficult to stimulate and grow mature eggs. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) is often a shock to a woman, particularly in their 20's or 30's as it is assumed that there are plenty of eggs and of good quality.

Fertility treatment is designed to stimulate and retrieve mature eggs (oocytes). Even if you are not menstruating regularly, which is often an indication that you are not ovulating regularly, eggs can often be stimulated and retrieved.

Treatment for Diminished Ovarian Reserve

Better understanding your menstrual cycle, as well as your ovarian cycle, can help put trouble conceiving into perspective. And hopefully allay your fears as well. Infertility would be better termed sub fertility as so often with appropriate fertility treatment protocols, even women who are not menstruating or ovulating regularly will become pregnant successfully.

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Topics: Ovulation, ovarian reserve, Fertility Treatment

Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.

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