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Evaluation of the menstrual cycle and timing of ovulation

Corrine K Welt, MD
Section Editors
Robert L Barbieri, MD
William F Crowley, Jr, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Martin, MD


There are a number of settings in which evaluation of the menstrual cycle may be important. A common question is whether a particular woman ovulates, an issue that can arise in a number of different settings.

Some women have irregular cycles (oligomenorrhea) and wish to determine how abnormal they are.

Other women have heavy and painful menstrual periods (hypermenorrhea and dysmenorrhea) that may be associated with anovulatory cycles.

Some women with apparently normal cycles fail to conceive and wish to know both whether they ovulate and, if so, how to optimize the timing of intercourse.

The detection and timing of ovulation will be reviewed here. The sequence of events occurring in the normal menstrual cycle, with a detailed description of the different phases, is discussed separately (see "Physiology of the normal menstrual cycle"). A discussion of female infertility is found elsewhere. (See "Overview of infertility".)


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Literature review current through: Mar 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 24, 2017.
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