Ovulation and periods, quite simply, go together. In some cases, though, you may ovulate without a period. This often occurs for women who have periods that are irregular.
You can technically experience monthly bleeding and no ovulation, but that bleeding is not a normal period. Instead, it results from an anovulatory cycle. This means that there was no ovulation in that month. It isn’t considered to be a normal menstrual period. If this seems confusing, it won’t be, once you understand the ways in which menstrual periods and ovulation work with each other.
Ovulation and True Periods
If you are healthy and not on a hormonal birth control method, you will ovulate on the 14th day of your menstrual cycle. This assumes that you have a normal cycle of 28 days.
During ovulation, your ovaries will release a mature egg that is ready to be fertilized. After the release of the egg, it remains alive for a period of between 12 and 24 hours. If the egg isn’t fertilized, it disintegrates and is absorbed into the uterine lining, known as the endometrium.
After this occurs, the follicle from which the egg came will begin producing progesterone, and this will thicken the lining of the uterus, to prepare it for a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus breaks down and sloughs off.
Two weeks after you ovulate, the lining of your uterus will discharge from the vagina, in what is known as a menstrual period. This is an actual, true period. The bleeding comes from the lining of the uterus, cervical mucus and blood.
Ovulation without Having a Period is Possible
Since your period results from the events of ovulation, it’s uncommon to ovulate without having a period. You may ovulate without a period if you have uterine scarring, or if you become pregnant.
If your uterus was scarred by a D&C procedure, a C-section or reproductive disease, the usual thickening of the uterus lining, which normally happens after you ovulate, does not occur. In this instance, you could ovulate without having a period. Or you might have a light period.
Since you can ovulate without normal periods, you’ll find that it is easier to conceive if your periods are regular. You may ovulate without periods if your ovaries release an egg between 12 to 16 days before you expect your period to begin.
If you have irregular periods due to a medical condition, see your OB-Gyn to have the cause discovered and take appropriate treatments. In addition, you will still need to utilize birth control if you don’t wish to conceive, even if you don’t have normal periods. Over-the-counter prediction kits for ovulation will help you chart your fertile days more readily.
When Do You Ovulate?
If your reproductive system is healthy and you have normal periods, you will ovulate two weeks before you start your menstrual period. That’s why, if you have a typical 28-day cycle, you will ovulate on the 14th day.
However, there are various factors that may affect ovulation timing. They include disruption in normal routines, jet lag, some medications, illness, stress and other factors. These factors can cause no ovulation to occur in its normal time. It may occur earlier or later than normal.
Since your ovulation timing may fluctuate, you need to pay attention to your ovulation signs, including a cervical mucus that is wet, slippery and of a consistency similar to that off egg whites.
How Can You tell if You’re Ovulating?
There are other ways to tell if you’re ovulating normally even without using OTC prediction kits for ovulation. Simply pay close attention to cervical mucus. It changes its texture and consistency at different times during your cycle. If you see stretchy mucus that looks like egg whites, it generally means you’re ovulating.
You may also chart your basal temperature to tell whether you are ovulating or not. Your basal temperature goes up one degree when you ovulate. There are other ovulation signs, too, including light spotting and change in cervical position and firmness.
You may feel an ache on just one side of the abdomen. You will also note a sex drive increase and your senses of taste, smell and vision will become heightened. Other common ovulation signs include breast tenderness and abdominal bloating.
Anovulatory Cycles and Estrogen-Related Breakthrough Bleeding
Now you’ve seen that you can have ovulation without a period in some circumstances. Can you have a period without having ovulated that month?
In short, no.
If you don’t ovulate, you can still have monthly bleeding, but it is not a normal period, which involves the shedding of the uterus lining. Rather, it results from estrogen-related breakthrough bleeding.
With this type of breakthrough bleeding, you will have had excess estrogen in your system, which causes the lining of your uterus to thicken. But if you don’t ovulate, and thus have an anovulatory cycle, no progesterone is created to offer any structural support to your growing endometrium. When this occurs, the lining of the uterus will slough off, and you will have vaginal bleeding.
If you don’t chart your menstrual periods, this breakthrough bleeding is easily mistaken as a normal period.
Anovulatory cycles usually affect teenage women and women in the years before true menopause begins. It sometimes also affects women in their normally-reproductive years. Hormone imbalance is the cause of estrogen-related breakthrough bleeding.
Treating Irregular Periods
If you wish to conceive but you experience ovulation without periods, you can help to correct your irregular periods. Maintaining a well-balanced diet will help. So will maintaining a healthy weight.
You may also use fertility-enhancing supplements that make it easier for your body to ovulate. Take prenatal vitamins for their extra nutrients even before you are pregnant.