EVALUATING OVARIAN FUNCTION
The ovaries are the two small organs in the female body. The ovaries are about the size of a thumb that is present in the pelvis area of the female body. They are attached on each side of the uterus near the opening of the fallopian tube.
There are three major functions of ovaries:
- They provide shelter to the eggs that a female is born with and protect them until they are ready to use.
- Ovaries are responsible for producing two main hormones named estrogen and progesterone (female reproductive hormones). It also produces a few hormones called relaxin and inhibin.
These hormones are vital for developing and maintain pregnancy. Hormones are also essential for regulating functions like growth, sexual functioning, metabolism, and reproduction in the body.
- Ovaries releases one egg or at times more for each menstrual cycle which is termed as ovulation. These eggs travel from the fallopian tube to the uterus. If there is no sperm, the egg gets flushed out and if it meets a sperm, there is a probability of developing pregnancy.
Examination of the functioning of ovaries
One of the common fertility analyses, ovulation disorders are easy to treat. For the regular working of ovaries, it should perform all its functions properly and inappropriate coordination.
There are several techniques to see if the woman is ovulating regularly and producing an adequate amount of hormones. Some of them are:
- Medical inspection:
The initial step in the assessment of the health of ovaries is to do a complete physical and pelvic examination. This inspection will also study the menstrual history of patients. It sees the pattern of regular or irregular periods for a clear indication about the working of ovaries.
It also examines the health of thyroid and pituitary glands that are responsible for regulating reproductive hormones.
This examination also notes every detail about any weight gain or loss to assess the nutritional status of the patient.
Ultrasound exposes the particular part of the body to high waves so that a clear image of that are can be seen. For evaluating ovarian functioning, a pelvic ultrasound is done. It gives a real-time image that shows the condition of ovarian egg follicles and shows if there are any cysts on ovaries.
- Thyroid test, Serum progesterone test, Prolactin blood tests
The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test gives the picture of how thyroid hormones are impacting on the reproductive system of the female body. Either its high thyroid level or low thyroid level, both hinders the working of hormones that are crucial for ovulation as well as pregnancy.
A serum progesterone test measures the levels of progesterone hormone in the body which is one of the most important hormones for the development of pregnancy. It is the simplest way to examine the ovaries.
A prolactin test measures the level of a hormone called prolactin in the blood. This hormone is made in the pituitary glands. When a woman is pregnant, the levels of prolactin hormone increase for the required production of breast milk for the child. However, a large amount of prolactin hormone can hinder the functioning of ovaries.
- Basal body temperature charting
The basal body temperature is the temperature of the human body when at rest. Keeping a track of a woman’s basal body temperature helps to know when she is ovulating.
A woman ovulates around two weeks before their period that is when an egg is released. The chances of pregnancy are at a peak on the day of ovulation and five days before it.
One can predict ovulation by basal body temperature. The body temperature increases with ovulation between 97.6oF and 98.6oF and stays up for twenty-four hours. Before and after ovulation the temperature lies between 97oF and 97.5oF.
By tracking the basal body temperature regularly, the paten of ovulation can be studied.
- Ovulation predictor kits (OPK)
Ovulation predictor kits are one of the most accurate and simple ways to know the ovulation pattern. OPKs detect production levels of a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. A rise in LH level alarms the ovary to release the egg. It is highly assumed that ovulation will occur within the next 12 to 36 hours. This helps in knowing the appropriate timing for insemination or intercourse.
As these OPKs measure the luteinizing hormone responsible for ovulation, it can indicate if ovaries are healthily ovulating or not.
- Examining the quality of egg
In the evaluation of ovarian functioning, an important element is to check the quality and status of eggs being produced. There are few simple blood tests and ultrasounds for the determination of the quality of eggs.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test and Estradiol test
These are the most basic blood test drawn on the third day of the menstrual cycle. FSH helps control the ovaries’ production of eggs. A high level of FSH and Estradiol indicates poor quality and quantity of eggs. A high level of estradiol suppresses the body’s production of FSH, which makes it harder for ovaries to react to fertility medications.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
AMH is produced by dormant follicles on the ovaries. A high level of AHM indicates the larger pool of eggs.
A complete evaluation of ovarian functioning helps in understanding and treating any disorder in ovaries.
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Is the egg retrieval painful?
During egg retrieval, you will be sedated and given medication so that you don’t’ feel the pain. After the surgery/procedure, you may feel cramps, soreness, or fullness.
Is bleeding expected after egg retrieval?
After egg retrieval, vaginal bleeding/spotting is common. It is similar to bleeding in periods. In case of excess bleed, you should contact the doctor immediately.
How long do I have to stay in the hospital during and after the procedure?
IVF Procedure does not require any hospitalization. It only requires frequent visits from time to time.
How soon can I return to normal life after IVF?
Once the embryo transfer is done, you can resume your normal life. You may experience cramps because there might be a minor swelling in the ovaries. Stick to a mild routine and avoid exertion as it may affect your chances of getting pregnant.