Every woman of reproductive age should understand ovulation, the signs, symptoms and various ovulation test. This guide will explain everything you need.
Why should i understand ovulation?
Knowing your ovulation cycle will help you know your fertile periods and your safe periods during your cycle. Preventing unwanted pregnancies and getting pregnant are the desires for many women. Having sex during your fertile periods will make you pregnant. Also, If you desire to have a baby, having sex in your safe period reduces your chances of getting pregnant.
Women who understand their cycle quickly knows when there is a problem.
What is menarche and menopause?
The first time you experience your period is menarche. This occurs at age of 13 years. Menopause is when period stops in a woman. Women may experience irregular menstruation before cessation of your period.
What is menstruation?
The vaginal bleeding you experience monthly is menstruation. You may sometimes experience some symptoms before your menstruation. This are called premenstrual symptoms (PMS). The process of menstruation is controlled by many hormones. In most women menstruation occurs 12 to 16 days after ovulation. Without ovulation, it is difficult to get pregnant. Women that have polycystic ovaries (PCOS) have difficulty getting pregnant.
What is LMP?
LMP is an acronym that stands for last menstrual period. It is the first day of your menstrual period. It is a common question asked by your doctor. Therefore, it is important to always know your LMP.
What is the normal menstrual cycle?
The normal menstrual cycle should last for about 2 to 7 days and occurs every 28 ± 7 days. This means it can occur from 21 to 35 days in women. If your menstrual cycle is more than 35 days or less than 21 days then you should inform your doctor
What factors affect menstruation?
- Emotional anxiety
- Academic activities
- Long term diseases
What is ovulation cycle?
For a woman to get pregnant, the ovaries expels the eggs into the fallopian tube. This process is ovulation. It is controlled by multiple hormone changes in your cycle.
Your brain (hypothalamus) will stimulate the pituitary gland to produce 2 hormones. The luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). These 2 hormones have effect on the ovaries. They will stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen.
Menstruation occurs due to depleted estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are involved in building up your womb while preparing for the baby. If they are depleted it results to shredding the lining covering your womb. This is your monthly period. Also, on the first day both hormones are low. Your first day of ovulation cycle is the day your menstruation starts.
In your first day of your ovulation cycle, the FSH is raised. This is because low estrogen levels will stimulate the pituitary gland to produce FSH. This will stimulate the growth of the ovarian follicle. As the follicles grow then start producing estrogen.
Estrogen will continue to rise steadily during your period. Due to rise in estrogen level, FSH level production is reduced by the pituitary gland (negative feedback mechanism). This will help selection of a single follicle. This is the dominant follicle.
At about 24 to 36 hours before ovulation occurs, the estrogen level reaches its peak. There is also stimulation of the pituitary gland to produce FSH and large LH hormones (LH surge). This occurs 12 to 24 hours before you ovulate.
What is the importance of LH surge and when do i ovulate?
LH surge is important because it predicts when a woman is likely to ovulate. Most over the counter ovulation predictive test detects rise in LH levels in women.
This LH surge will further stimulate the dominant follicle to produce progesterone. This hormone is important to prepare the endometrium for the embryo.
When do you ovulate?
The LH surge occurs before you ovulate. Presence of LH surge is a predictor that you are likely to ovulate in 12 to 24 hours time. Ovulation predicting tests use this method. Regular sex during this period is likely to get you pregnant.
What happens after ovulation?
The ruptured follicles will form the corpus luteum. The corpus lutuem is important to prepare a woman for implantation.
There are 2 events that can occur — Either if the sperm fertilize the ovum (if you get pregnant) or if it does not (If you do not get pregnant).
What happens if i get pregnant?
The corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone. This is needed to develop the endometrium. This is the inner uterine covering.
If the bay is implanted, the corpus luteum will continue to produce progesterone and estrogen. Some women may experience slight implantation bleeding or discharge after the baby is implanted. Progesterone is the dominant hormone after ovulation while estrogen is dominant before ovulation.
What happens if i do not get pregnant?
If the egg is not fertilized by a sperm then implantation will not occur. This will cause the corpus luteum to breakdown and regress. Hence, there will be reduced production of estrogen and progesterone that is important for preparing the endometrium. This withdrawal of these hormones will cause the uterus to shred its lining leading to menstruation
This reduced level of estrogen and progesterone will also stimulate the pituitary gland to produce FSH. This will start the process over again.
When is my ovulation period and fertile window?
Your fertile window is your best chance of getting pregnant. The normal sperm lives for about 3 to 5 days while the egg lives for about 12 to 24 hours. Therefore, your fertile window is is between 5 days prior to when you ovulate and 24 hours after. Regular sex during this window is important for you to get pregnant.
Drugs like ibuprofen should also be avoided if you want to get pregnant. This is because they block prostaglandins which is important for smooth muscular activities that expels the egg.
In addition, the chances of getting pregnant is reduced at the extremes of your fertile window.
What are ovulation signs and symptoms to expect?
During your menstrual cycle, there is a complex change of hormones. Below are ovulation signs and symptoms experienced by women during pregnancy.
Cervical mucus. The change in cervical mucus is due to estrogen. Estrogen is dominant in the first part of the cycle. It causes the cervical mucus to be stretchy, watery and often described by women as egg white. This change in the cervix will enable the sperm swim to the fallopian for implantation. However, it can be confusing to women. To detect the mucus you can dip your hand into your vagina. If the mucus is long, stretchy and sticky then you are close to ovulate.
Abdominal pain.During ovulation some women experience pain in the abdomen. However, this pain does not last long. The pain can either be on the right or left side. Most women will respond to common analgesic to treat this pain.
Increased sexual desire (libido). Just around time for you to ovulate, there is a rise in the level of androgen produced by the follicles. This is believed to cause increased libido in women. This will ensure that sex naturally happens before you ovulate.
Vaginal spotting or bleeding.This is common in women during ovulation. its absence also does not disprove ovulation. However, it is normal. Vaginal bleeding during ovulation is due to rupture of dominant follicle with resultant slight bleeding that can be seen as blood. This should not a concern except if you experience prolonged bleeding with blood clots.
Other ovulation symptoms and signs include
Change in mood
What ovulation test can predict when i ovulate?
There are various ovulation test and techniques to check and predict when you will ovulate. It is important you learn how to use ovulation test.
The presence of the above symptoms in some women will be enough. However, predicting your ovulation will require much more. Some ovulation test and technique that can be done are
Basal body temperature (BBT).
This is your lowest body temperature a rest. It is done usually in the morning before any other activity is done. Before ovulation, due to high levels of estrogen, the BBT is low. It is estimated to be between 97.2 to 97.6 ºF. After ovulation, due to effects of progesterone, there is an increase in basal body temperature.
Therefore, women who chart their basal body temperature during their cycle can take advantage of this. However, the BBT only shows when ovulation occurs. It does not predict ovulation.
This is especially relevant in women because of varying menstrual cycle. In a woman who has a regular menstrual cycle of 28 days, ovulation occurs in the 14th day. This is fairly constant in most women with a slight deviation of 12 to 16 days. In addition, understanding your ovulation cycle will help predict your ovulation. When done correctly, your BBT and menstrual charting can predict when you ovulate.
Use of ovulation kits
The ovulation kit can detect when you ovulate. It works by detecting the LH surge that occurs 12 to 24 hours before you ovulate. Therefore, regular sex will increase your chance to get pregnant.
Use of fertility monitors
Unlike ovulation kits that detect your fertile window 24 hours prior to ovulation, the fertility monitor can detect your fertile window for about 5 days. However, it is more expensive. It can be used in women with both regular and irregular menstrual cycles.
Use of ovulation calculator or calendar
The ovulation calculator can be used to detect your fertile period. It helps women to plan their sex life while trying to get pregnant. However, it is most helpful in women regularly chart their cycles. To detect your fertile periods with the ovulation calculator, you need you LMP and the average length of your cycle.
Now let us know the ovulation symptoms and signs you experience? Comment below with your suggestions and questions.