Late ovulation: Fertility, menstruation, and when to see a doctor (2023)

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Late ovulation occurs when a person ovulates close to the onset of their next menstrual period. Late ovulation may affect a person’s fertility and menstruation.

Depending on the length of their menstrual cycle, most women will ovulate 10–16 days before their period. According to the Office of Women’s Health, the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, but some cycles may last between 21-38 days.

People with more prolonged or irregular cycles tend to ovulate later, or they may not ovulate every cycle.

(Video) Fertile days after Period | Dr.Jasmin Rath | Sr.Consultant Gynecologist | Hi9

In this article, we discuss late ovulation and its effect on fertility. We list some potential causes of late ovulation and suggest when its time to see a doctor.

Late ovulation: Fertility, menstruation, and when to see a doctor (1)Share on Pinterest

The following may contribute to late ovulation:

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of female infertility. It affects 6-12% of females of reproductive age in the United States.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS include:

  • irregular or absent periods
  • high levels of male hormones, which may cause facial hair or severe acne
  • cysts on the ovaries, which can affect ovulation
  • having overweight or obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment can improve a person’s ability to conceive and reduce the risk of complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Treatment options include medication, weight loss, and other lifestyle changes.

Learn more about PCOS here.


According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid occurs when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism can affect menstruation and inhibit ovulation.

The NIDDK indicate that approximately 4.6% of people in the U.S. aged 12 and older have hypothyroidism. Females are much more likely than males to develop the condition.

Medication can restore thyroid hormones to normal levels, which may regulate ovulation and improve fertility.

In one 2012 study of 394 infertile women, 23.9% had hypothyroidism. After treatment, 76.6% of those women conceived within 1 year.

(Video) Does early ovulation (or late ovulation) make it harder to get pregnant?

Learn about the symptoms of hypothyroidism here.

Extreme stress

People experiencing extreme physical or emotional stress may stop ovulating or may experience other menstrual changes. Examples of extreme stressors include:

  • domestic or sexual violence
  • chronic or terminal illness, such as cancer
  • the death of a loved one
  • living through war
  • surviving a natural disaster

For example, an older 2009 study reports that the rate of menstrual disorders increased significantly in women in China who survived an earthquake that measured 8.0 on the Richter scale.

Find out more about stress and why it occurs.


When a person breastfeeds exclusively, the body naturally stops menstruating and ovulating.

Planned Parenthood defines exclusive breastfeeding as feeding the baby breast milk and nothing else at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night.

As breastfeeding stops ovulation, some women use it as a form of birth control. However, it is not completely effective. Approximately 2% of those who follow this method will get pregnant within 6 months after the birth.

Normal menstruation and ovulation will typically resume once a person finishes breastfeeding or once their baby begins solid foods and breastfeeds less frequently.

Find out more about breastfeeding here.


According to a 2013 article in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, hyperprolactinemia is a rare cause of late or missed ovulation. It occurs when the body produces higher-than-normal levels of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates breast milk production.

According to the article, the prevalence of hyperprolactinemia ranges from 0.4% in the general population to 5% in family planning clinics, to 17% in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Hyperprolactinemia may result from a benign brain tumor or the use of some medications.

The article adds that treatment with medication can reduce prolactin production, shrink the tumor, eliminate symptoms, and facilitate normal ovulation.

Find out about testing prolactin levels in the blood here.


Some medications and illicit drugs can prevent ovulation. According to the Journal of Women’s Health, cannabis may have a relationship with ovulation disorder.

(Video) After A Miscarriage: What Happens Next? Ovulation, Fertility, and Periods

However, research into the impact of specific medications and substances on ovulation is ongoing, and researchers need to conduct further research to confirm any links.

Stopping the use of these substances or switching to an alternative medication may help to regulate ovulation. However, individuals should not stop or change medications without discussing it with their doctor first.

Late ovulation can affect a person’s fertility and ability to conceive.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) state that problems with ovulation, such as late or missed ovulation, are the most common causes of female infertility.

Women who have long or irregular cycles can struggle to know when they have ovulated. This makes conception challenging because they do not know when to time intercourse.

However, late ovulation does not make conception impossible. Many women with irregular ovulation will successfully conceive.

Ovulation predictor kits can help individuals determine when they ovulate, enabling them to more accurately time sexual intercourse.

A range of kits is available for purchase online.

Those who have a medical condition that affects ovulation, such as PCOS, hyperprolactinemia, or hypothyroidism, can often conceive following treatment.

How does it affect menstruation?

(Video) How do we Calculate ovulation time in Irregular periods | Dr Kavya Priya Vazrala |Gynecologist | Hi9

Late ovulation may also affect menstruation.

Some people with late ovulation may have heavy bleeding during their period. According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, this occurs because levels of the hormone estrogen rise during the first part of the menstrual cycle, causing the lining of the uterus to thicken.

Then, ovulation triggers the body’s release of another hormone, progesterone. This hormone supports the uterus to maintain a pregnancy, should one occur.

However, late or missed ovulation means that the body does not secrete progesterone. Instead, it continues to release estrogen, causing more blood to build up in the uterine lining.

At a certain point, the lining becomes unstable and leaves the body as a heavier-than-normal menstrual period.

Individuals should see their doctor if they have concerns about their menstrual cycle, ability to ovulate, or fertility.

In general, the earlier a person seeks treatment, the better the outcome. This is especially true about fertility, which, according to ACOG, declines with age.

It is also important to see a doctor if any of the following apply:

  • menstrual cycles are less than 21 days or longer than 40 days
  • sudden changes occur to the menstrual cycle
  • periods suddenly stop without any apparent reason
  • heavy menstrual bleeding occurs
  • severe period pains occur
  • symptoms of PCOS, hypothyroidism, or hyperprolactinemia develop
  • conception does not occur within 12 months of trying for those under 35 years of age, or within 6 months for those over 35

Late ovulation that occurs regularly may reduce a person’s fertility and cause heavy periods. However, late ovulation can occur in almost any woman occasionally. Infrequent late ovulation is not typically a cause for concern.

(Video) The best time to get Pregnant specially in irregular periods - Dr. Suhasini Inamdar

Common causes of late ovulation include stress, breastfeeding, and medical conditions, such as PCOS and hypothyroidism. In cases of stress and breastfeeding, changes to menstruation and fertility are typically only temporary.

In the case of an underlying medical condition, treatment can often restore normal ovulation and improve a person’s chances of conceiving.


Will your period be late if you ovulate late? ›

If you're familiar with how the menstrual cycle works, you may also wonder, “Does late ovulation mean late period?” The short answer is yes, it does. If you ovulate late or don't ovulate at all, this can cause a late period. You may also notice that your period is heavier than usual.

Why am I ovulating and my period is late? ›

Infrequent late ovulation is not typically a cause for concern. Common causes of late ovulation include stress, breastfeeding, and medical conditions, such as PCOS and hypothyroidism. In cases of stress and breastfeeding, changes to menstruation and fertility are typically only temporary.

Does late ovulation mean poor egg quality? ›

Late ovulation does not produce the best quality eggs, which can also reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. During different times in your life, ovulation may or may not happen: Women who are pregnant do not ovulate. Women who are breastfeeding may or may not ovulate.

When is ovulation considered late? ›

What is late ovulation? Late or delayed ovulation is ovulation that occurs after day 21 of your menstrual cycle. Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from an ovary.

Is it harder to get pregnant if you ovulate late? ›

The main consequence of late ovulation is not getting pregnant. Ovulating late in the cycle lowers conception chances. Not knowing when ovulation will happen in your cycle means you could easily miss the short window that the egg is available for fertilization.

Can late ovulation cause birth defects? ›

May 9, 2002 -- It's been thought that the timing of sex -- waiting too long after ovulation -- can cause birth defects. However, a new study finds no link between aging gametes (egg and sperm) and major birth defects like Down syndrome.

How do I know my egg quality is poor? ›

Egg quality declines over time

There's no test for egg quality. The only way to know if an egg is chromosomally normal is to attempt to fertilize it, and, if fertilization is successful, to perform a genetic test on the embryo.

Can late ovulation lead to twins? ›

The ovaries usually release just one egg during ovulation per menstrual cycle. But sometimes, more than one egg can mature and be released by an ovary in a process called hyperovulation, which can lead to getting pregnant with multiple babies.

What if I ovulated late and got pregnant? ›

Can you ovulate late and still get pregnant? Yes. It is absolutely still possible to get pregnant even if you ovulate late (i.e. anytime after day 21 of your cycle). However, late ovulation can have a negative impact on the quality of your eggs and your ability to conceive.

Can late ovulation affect hCG levels? ›

Pregnancy tests measure the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. Because the body only produces hCG once an egg implants in the uterine lining, late ovulation can certainly affect the reading—especially if you thought you ovulated earlier than you actually did.

Does late ovulation increase chance of miscarriage? ›

Late Implantation and the Risk of Miscarriage

Several studies have found a higher risk of miscarriage in pregnancies where implantation occurs more than eight to 10 days after ovulation.

What can damage your eggs? ›

Risk factors
  • Age. The quality and quantity of a woman's eggs begin to decline with age. ...
  • Smoking. Besides damaging your cervix and fallopian tubes, smoking increases your risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. ...
  • Weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight may affect ovulation. ...
  • Sexual history. ...
  • Alcohol.
Aug 27, 2021

Does caffeine affect egg quality? ›

Getting pregnant naturally

Similar findings were also noted in another prospective study published in Epidemiology when looking at over 18,000 women without a prior history of infertility. In this study, researchers noted that caffeine consumption “did not impair ovulation to the point of decreasing fertility.”

At what age does egg quality decline? ›

Egg quality starts to decline at age 32 and decreases rapidly after 37. Advanced maternal age also heightens the risk of birth defects. Only 28 percent of women, and 35 percent of men, believe age is the number one contributor to female infertility, the AOA survey found.

At what age are you most likely to conceive twins? ›

According to the Office on Women's Health , women who are aged 30 years or older are more likely to conceive twins. The reason for this is that women of this age are more likely than younger women to release more than one egg during their reproductive cycle.

Can you ovulate without a period and get pregnant? ›

Yes, a girl can get pregnant before she gets her first period. Getting pregnant is related to ovulation. Because a girl can ovulate before having her first period, it is possible to become pregnant if she has sex.

Why am I ovulating but not getting pregnant? ›

Some common reasons include stress, not timing baby-making sex with ovulation, residual effects of hormonal birth control, and certain health conditions. As much as we may try, pregnancy really can't really be planned—but you can increase your chances by being aware of common pitfalls.

What are infertility warning signs? ›

The main symptom of infertility is not getting pregnant. There may be no other obvious symptoms. Sometimes, women with infertility may have irregular or absent menstrual periods. In some cases, men with infertility may have some signs of hormonal problems, such as changes in hair growth or sexual function.

How do you test if a woman is infertile? ›

Tests to find out the cause of infertility in women include:
  1. Blood tests. Samples of your blood can be tested for a hormone called progesterone to check whether you're ovulating. ...
  2. Chlamydia test. Chlamydia is an STI that can affect fertility. ...
  3. Ultrasound scan. ...
  4. X-ray. ...
  5. Laparoscopy.

How do I know if I am fertile enough to get pregnant? ›

If your menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and your period arrives like clockwork, it's likely that you'll ovulate on day 14. That's halfway through your cycle. Your fertile window begins on day 10. You're more likely to get pregnant if you have sex at least every other day between days 10 and 14 of a 28-day cycle.

What are 4 causes for female infertility? ›

The most common causes of female infertility include problems with ovulation, damage to fallopian tubes or uterus, or problems with the cervix. Age can contribute to infertility because as a woman ages, her fertility naturally tends to decrease.

What is the most common reason for not getting pregnant? ›

The most common overall cause of female infertility is the failure to ovulate, which occurs in 40% of women with infertility issues. Not ovulating can result from several causes, such as: Ovarian or gynecological conditions, such as primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

What can cause difficulty getting pregnant? ›

These include: age – fertility declines with age. weight – being overweight or obese (having a BMI of 30 or over) reduces fertility; in women, being overweight or severely underweight can affect ovulation. sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – several STIs, including chlamydia, can affect fertility.


1. Ovulation Problems | Doctor Explains Anovulation
2. Does Early or Late Ovulation? Ovulation and Pregnancy | Dr. Richika Sahay Shukla | India IVF Clinic
(India IVF Clinic)
3. Irregular Periods and Trying to Conceive | Fertility Doctor Tips
(Shady Grove Fertility)
4. Why you are ovulating late (or not at all) [MUST WATCH IF TRYING TO GET PREGNANT]
(Dr. Marc Sklar - FertilityTV)
5. If I Ovulate Late Will My Period Be Late
6. Ovulation Symptoms | Doctor Explains
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