I just read that you ovulate once your estrogen level reaches some threshold, and then the follicle from which the egg bursts releases luteinizing hormone. The LH causes (among other things) the endometrial lining to build up. If the egg isn't fertilized the lining is shed as your period. Now, in an anovulatory cycle, if there is no egg bursting from a follicle, then there's no follicle releasing LH, and so it seems there should be no lining to shed. SO how can you have a period if you don't ovulate?? Is LH produced in some other way? Are periods following an anovulatory cycle lighter than normal?
I think it's the estrogen that builds the endometrium (uterine lining), I'll have to check in a book but that makes sense since it's also estrogen that makes endometriosis worse. I am under the impression that your menstrual cycle and your ovulatory cycle are two separate things that work in conjunction with one another but aren't dependent on one another... I'll look it up and get back to you.
FWIW - My anov bleeding is just like a regular period except maybe a bit lighter than what is normal for me, and a little late.
I just reread what I read before. LH rises once estrogen rises, and it's progesterone that the follicle releases and which builds up the endometrial lining. But my question is still valid, just with LH replaced with progesterone.
I am pretty sure it is estrogen that builds up the endometrium -- I just went through a month of fertility shots -- and they made my estrogen rise and as it rose, my endometrium grew and grew....
As for anovulatory cycles, my experience with them (and I have had mostly these kinds of cycles my whole life) is that I bleed heavier and with more clotting on an anovulatory cycle BECAUSE the endometrium grows and grows and grows.... but I never have the LH surge to trigger ovulation.......
I do know that when I am on birthcontrol, my periods get lighter and lighter, the longer I am on it -- because my endometrium doesn't grow.... Being on the pill really helps my endo.....
good luck figuring it all aout!!!
Here's what it says in TCOYF:
Follicle Stimulating Hormone - eggs start maturing, follicles produce estrogen
Estrogen - estrogen makes the endometrium grow. once estrogen is high enough, triggers abrupt LH surge
Lutenizing Hormone (LH surge) - causes the egg to burst through the ovarian wall
Ovulation - follicle then becomes corpus luteum which releases progesterone
Progesterone - progesterone sustains the lining but the corpus luteum deteriorates at a certain point (Luteal phase) and the cycle starts over again
In anov cycles, either a drop in estrogen triggers menstruation or the estrogen keeps building the endometrium to a point where it can't support itself sufficiently and bleeding occurs.
So to answer your question, the lining is built up before ovulation, when and if you are going to ovulate, whether you are having a regular cycle or not. The difference is what triggers the lining to shed, but your body still has to get rid of that old blood before a new cycle can start. That's why docs prescribe progesterone to kick-start af and a new cycle.
My RE says that estrogen builds the lining, and progesterone actually softens the endometrium so it is soft and spongy and ready for possible implantation. LH doesn't effect the endometrium. LH only signals the final growth spurt and release of the egg.
Annovlatory bleeding can come from more than one cause. Either the lining builds up to a level that cannot be sustained so it sloughs off, or a combination of dropping estrogen levels without progesterone from ovulation causes it. Without progesterone the uterus can't sustain thick lining levels. Also you often get long annovulatory spotting cycles because without progesterone the lining does not come off as rapidly and cleanly.
Thank you all for taking the time to share your knowledge with me. It's frustrating not knowing what my body is doing. I should buy TCOYF, but I keep thinking I'll be pregnant soon and won't need it.
You can probably find a copy of TCOYF at a used bookstore for half the price of a new copy!
I didn't think I needed to read it either, but I've learned so much from it...
Please buy the book!!! It is very easy to understand and you will know more than MOST doctors.
Our midwife told us to get the book. WHAT A JOY!