As women, we like to stay in touch with our body.
We often monitor when we ovulate, for instance, if we are trying to get pregnant—or trying not to get pregnant—or just to monitor our overall pelvic health.
If your menstrual cycles are irregular, you may wonder: can you ovulate without a period? In short, yes. You can also experience monthly bleeding without ovulating.
Both of these symptoms are irregular, however, so let’s explore this question in greater detail.
Your Menstrual Cycle
If you don’t already keep track of your menstrual cycle, it might be a good idea to start.
Monitoring when your last menstrual period began and how long it lasted, for instance, will help you identify your version of normal. That will help you know if you have missed a period, if you have heavy bleeding, or if you have bleeding between periods. It can also help you time ovulation if you’re trying to get pregnant.1
The process of ovulation is when your ovaries release an egg each month, while hormonal changes prepare your uterus for pregnancy. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina, which is known as a menstrual period.1
Irregularities in your menstrual cycle aren’t usually serious, but sometimes they can signal health problems. And since everyone is different, it’s good to know your version of “normal.”1
Can You Ovulate Without A Period?
But what if you don’t have a period? Is it possible that you still ovulated? Ovulation usually occurs about the middle of your cycle, in other words about 14 days before the start of a period in an average 28-day cycle.2
The egg then lives for about 12-24 hours, and if it isn’t fertilized, it disintegrates and gets absorbed into the uterine lining called the endometrium. About 14 days after ovulation, the lining of the uterus will discharge from the vagina in the form of menstrual blood.3
While it’s uncommon to ovulate without having a period, it is possible, and here are two factors that can cause this situation:3
- Becoming pregnant! If that’s your goal, you will be happy to know this is why you aren’t having a period!
- Uterine scarring. For instance, some procedures that remove tissue from inside your uterus, often to treat conditions like heavy bleeding, can create scarring on your uterus. This can impact the usual thickening of the uterus lining, leading you to ovulate without having a period, or have a light period.
There’s also a condition called amenorrhea, which is when a woman does not have periods. Primary amenorrhea is when you never start your periods, and secondary amenorrhea is when you have had periods, and then they stop, especially for more than three months.4
Possible causes for this include—once again—pregnancy, as well as hormonal changes, losing or gaining a lot of weight quickly, maintaining a low weight in harmful ways, some medicines, stress, or being active in endurance sports. Even if you have amenorrhea and don’t have periods, you could still get pregnant.4
You can also experience bleeding without ovulating, which is known as abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), or anovulatory bleeding. Abnormal uterine bleeding is common, with approximately one-third of women of child-bearing age experiencing it. There are times when it is more common, such as when you just start getting your periods, or when you are in perimenopause, the transition to menopause. It is occasionally a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).5
See a Doctor
If you’re having irregular periods, or have other concerns about your fertility, pelvic health, or health in general, use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health. Whether or not you’re trying to get pregnant, irregular periods can be a sign of health issues, so it’s best to seek medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.