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Can You Have A Period Without Ovulating?

A period or menstruation is the bleeding that occurs about 12 to 16 days after ovulation or the release of an egg. If ovulation does not occur, no egg is released, and hence technically there should be no bleeding at all. This is known as anovulation. In women where ovulation fails to occur because of an anovulatory disorder, bleeding can occur nevertheless. This is known as anovulatory bleeding and is not a normal menstrual period.

There is a huge difference between cycles in which the woman ovulates but does not get her period, and one in which she gets her period but does not ovulate. In the former case, the woman is almost certainly pregnant. In the latter case, she has had an anovulatory cycle.

If you do not chart your ovulation and have an anovulatory disorder, then you may assume that you are menstruating normally when anovulatory bleeding occurs during your cycle. This anovulatory bleeding occurs when estrogen production continues to develop in the uterine lining without reaching the threshold necessary to trigger ovulation. In such a case, either of the following two things may happen, both leading to what appears to be a menstrual period but is really not one.

* Either the estrogen will build up slowly to a point below the threshold and then drop, resulting in estrogen withdrawal bleeding.

* Or the endometrium builds up slowly over an extended period of time, eventually to the point where the resulting uterine lining is so thickened it can no longer sustain itself. This is known as estrogen breakthrough bleeding. This is a more common occurrence.

In either case, if you weren’t charting your ovulation, you might think you were simply menstruating, though you would maybe notice a difference in the type of bleeding. Some women may notice a difference in the flow of bleeding. It may become heavier or lighter than your usual flow.


Last modified: February 10, 2013


The information provided here should not be considered medical advice. It is based on the average experience of women trying to conceive and may not be what you may be experiencing. It's not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your cycle or our ability to get pregnant, we advise you to contact your doctor.