What are Common Causes of Delayed Ovulation?

N. Madison

Most women ovulate around the same time each month. Sometimes, however, a woman may ovulate later than normal, and there's a number of things that may cause such a delay. For example, a woman may ovulate later than usual because of stress and anxiety or because of a hormonal imbalance. In some cases, a physical illness or too much exercise may result in delayed ovulation as well.

Intense physical training can delay ovulation.
Intense physical training can delay ovulation.

In order for ovulation to occur, four different hormones must act on a woman’s reproductive system. These hormones include estrogen and progesterone as well as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone LH). When any of these hormones are imbalanced, ovulation may be delayed. In fact, a woman may not ovulate at all when these hormones are not released in the required amounts.

Emotional stress may result in delayed ovulation.
Emotional stress may result in delayed ovulation.

A woman may wonder why a single reproductive hormone can cause ovulation delays. The reason for this is the fact that the hormones act on the body and on each other to stimulate ovulation. For example, FSH stimulates egg production in a woman’s ovary, and the eggs develop in follicles that also have the job of producing estrogen. Estrogen surges in a woman’s body a few days before ovulation and causes a surge in LH, which then stimulates ovulation. If even one of these hormones isn’t produced and released when it should be, ovulation may not occur when expected.

During ovulation, an egg is released from a woman's ovary.
During ovulation, an egg is released from a woman's ovary.

Sometimes women also experience delayed ovulation because of some type of physical or emotional stress. For example, if a person is dealing with a great deal of mental stress and anxiety, the stress may interfere with the processes that allow ovulation to proceed. Illness, a physical type of stress on the body, may lead to delayed ovulation as well. In fact, a woman who performs an extreme amount of exercise may also have late ovulation.

Timing intercourse during the days leading up to ovulation is the best way to achieve pregnancy.
Timing intercourse during the days leading up to ovulation is the best way to achieve pregnancy.

In many cases, a woman who experiences delayed ovulation may not even know it is late. Eventually, her menstrual period may begin and she may not even consider the cause of its lateness, which is usually delayed ovulation. If her menstrual period is very late, however, or a woman is having trouble conceiving a child, she may visit a doctor for advice and learn that she is not ovulating when expected. In most cases, delayed ovulation is only temporary and corrects itself after a time. Sometimes, however, medical help is required to get ovulation back on track.

Excessive exercise may cause an irregular menstrual period and delayed ovulation.
Excessive exercise may cause an irregular menstrual period and delayed ovulation.
Severe bulimia may stop ovulation.
Severe bulimia may stop ovulation.

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Discussion Comments


I only have periods when I take my prescribed medication medroxyprogesterone. I don't have periods unless I take these pills. I have unprotected sex with my boyfriend all the time. Could I get pregnant even though I don't have regular monthly periods?


I was on birth control and missed two pills two weeks apart in December. I had unprotected sex on January 1 and 2 and took one test that said positive but took another that said negative.

I would now be six months pregnant and have had my period sort of regularly for the past three months but now I am feeling symptoms where I am nauseated more, I crave certain foods and I am more stressed out.

I wanted to know could my stress affect me and make my body hold off on producing enough hcg to show pregnancy and is it a good time to take a test now.


I'm hoping someone can help me out here. I keep close track of my period/ovulation and it usually comes when it's supposed to. Last month, though, my period was five days late (I'm assuming due to stress), which automatically switched the date on my ovulation tracker. My husband and I have had unprotected sex, although I'm not "trying" to get pregnant. Normally if that happens during the time my tracker says I'm not ovulating, I don't worry too much about it and it hasn't failed me yet. But now I'm wondering if I might be pregnant since my late period threw me off schedule.

Since it was late, does that mean I ovulated later than I was supposed to as well, or should I have stuck with the original ovulation time?


It's also quite common for a woman to experience delayed ovulation after a miscarriage. This is because the pregnancy created a high level of progesterone, so your body will act as though you are still pregnant for a little while.

You may also have raised HCG, a pituitary gland hormone which acts to stop further ovulation occurring. This is a natural safety mechanism, as it would be dangerous for a second egg to be fertilized after one baby begins to develop.

The good news is that many women who wait a month or two for their ovulation cycle to right itself after miscarriage have a successful subsequent pregnancy.


@MrsWinslow - It depends what you mean by "delayed." If you normally had 28 day cycles and then one month it was 35, that's a month your ovulation was delayed--if it happened at all--perhaps because of stress.

But you say your cycles are always about 35 days. After ovulation, the menstrual period always follows within 16 days unless you're pregnant, so it's the day of ovulation that is variable from woman to woman. You could be ovulating around day 21, or you might not be ovulating at all.

Look into the Fertility Awareness Method; you can find books, websites, classes, etc. that will teach you how to use your body temperature and cervical fluid to find out when and if you're ovulating. You can also research using darkness and light and changing your diet to help regulate your menstrual cycle. (Basically, whole-milk dairy and plant proteins are good for your cycle; there was a Newsweek article about a while back.)

Good luck with your baby dreams!


My menstruation cycle tends to be about 35 days long. Does that mean I'm having delayed ovulation every month? Does a long cycle mean a hormone imbalance? I'm trying to get pregnant and not having any luck. How can I find out if/when I'm ovulating to time things correctly.

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