The chances of pregnancy are generally the same whether you have one ovary or two, as long as the existing ovary ovulates and remains attached to the healthy fallopian tube on the same side. If an ovary and fallopian tube remain on the opposite side, the chances are smaller but possible. Other missing parts of the reproductive system can make pregnancy more difficult. There is a lot of evidence to observe to know if you are still fertile and, depending on the case, resort to fertility treatments or assisted reproduction.
The first sign to look for to know if you can get pregnant and you have only one ovary is the presence of ovulation. In order for there to be a pregnancy, the release of the egg from the ovary is necessary and it travels to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. If on the way the egg finds a sperm and there is fertilization, the embryo is formed that will be implanted in the walls of the uterus. If there is no fertilization the ovum will be expelled during menstruation Along with the lining of the uterine wall that forms each month, menstruation is thus one of the signs that ovulation may be taking place.
When a woman has two ovaries, it is normal for the ovary that releases the egg to alternate monthly. If there is only one ovary, the remaining ovary usually takes over the function of the other and it will be this one that releases one egg in each menstrual cycleso menstruation will still continue to have the normal periodicity, although menopause will take place earlier.
To find out when ovulation occurs, you can measure basal body temperature. This temperature usually changes at specific points in the menstrual cycle. To measure it, it is essential that it be done every day at the same time and as soon as you wake up in the morning. During ovulation there is usually an increase in basal temperature of at least 0.11 ºC for three consecutive days. You should also watch the consistency of the vaginal mucus; If there is ovulation, the vaginal secretion usually appears thinner and clearer in the middle of the cycle. Commercial ovulation tests measure levels of luteinizing hormone, which rise during ovulation.
However, to know if there is ovulation reliably, you should go to the gynecologist and perform fertility tests adequate since, although it is not considered normal, there may be menstruation without ovulation (anovulatory periods, bleeding is not considered real menstruation), there may also be ovulation without menstruation in some cases, the vaginal mucus may be altered for other reasons and the levels of luteinizing hormone can be affected by different conditions, for example, by polycystic ovaries or in premenopausal women.
Risks of conception with an ovary
Women with only one ovary are often associated with increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. In these pregnancies the fetus cannot survive and may miscarry, be absorbed into the body, or have to be removed by medical intervention. Some studies show that children are also more likely to be conceived with Down’s Syndrome. Additionally, women with one ovary will experience the menopause at earlier ages.
There are situations where it can be more difficult to get pregnant if you have only one ovary, such as having one ovary and the fallopian tube on the opposite side. Although this makes it very unlikely that the egg will reach the uterus, it does happen sometimes. The situation worsens if the remaining ovary has a problem and does not ovulate normally. In order to alert the woman to possible infertility problems, both are evaluated whenever an ovary is to be removed. No matter how many ovaries you have, If both fallopian tubes are blocked, pregnancy is highly unlikely.
Assisted reproduction and fertility treatments
A common recommendation to any woman who intends to become pregnant, regardless of the number of ovaries, is that try at least for 15 months naturally before deciding to see fertility experts. If the pregnancy has not occurred within that time, the woman and her partner should undergo fertility tests. In the case of the woman with one ovary, it may be that she has some problem with your remaining ovary or blocked fallopian tubes and the passage of the ovum is prevented. Surgery can, in certain cases, solve the problem.
Other fertility treatments include fertilization in vitrowhich consists of the fertilization of the egg in the laboratory and its subsequent implantation in the ovary. In some situations they may be recommended hormonal treatments, such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Although there is statistical evidence that places the pregnancy rate practically at the same level in women with one ovary subjected to in vitro fertilization or subjected to pharmacological treatment than in women with both ovaries subjected to the same treatments, women with one ovary usually need higher doses of medication or need more time to achieve the same state of stimulation.
Even if no treatment works and you can’t get pregnant, doesn’t mean it’s totally impossible and it is recommended to return to use birth control if you decide that you no longer want to be a mother. Sometimes even what is believed to be truly impossible can happen and there have been cases of pregnancy in women who had been diagnosed as infertile. In addition, the use of condoms prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, so they should be used if you no longer want to conceive even though the chances are very slim.