The menstrual cycle and ovulation signs…sounds like another anatomy lesson is coming on! Trust me, I will try my best to make it as simple as possible. Because let’s face it – ovulation is a key part of understanding your body and the first step to assessing your fertility. Why? Let me break it down for you…
Bottom line – your body prepares for a pregnancy every single month. Day 1 of your cycle is when your period starts in full swing. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) starts to increase at this time and about 15-20 follicles start to mature in each ovary. Each egg is contained in its own follicle. Estrogen also starts to rise as the follicles grow. Increased levels of estrogen cause a sharp rise in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland that sits in our brains. This triggers the release of the egg from the follicle – and voila…this means ovulation has occurred!
So how do you know if your body is actually going through the motions of releasing the egg from its follicle each month? Well, recognizing some key signals that our body presents can give us an indication that ovulation, has in fact occurred. Below are a few signs that you can look out for to track ovulation.
1. Cervical Mucous
Have you ever noticed a fluid/mucous discharge? Paying close attention to this sign is one of the keys in determining the changes in hormones and ovulation each month. “Cervical fluid is to the women what seminal fluid is to the man.” It is an important signal! Cervical fluid provides an alkaline environment to protect the sperm from the acidity in the vagina, it nourishes the sperm, it also acts as a filtering mechanism and most importantly allows the sperm to move through to reach to the uterus.
As estrogen rises, the cervical fluid will become more fertile. Your cervical mucous will change in the following way after your period is complete.
(Period) → DRY → STICKY → CREAMY → EGG WHITE → DRY → (Period)
Cervical mucous starts off dry after your period ends, it will then become sticky or paste-like then creamy, like lotion, and finally will become an egg white consistency. Egg white mucous is the most fertile, it usually stretches 1 inch, is clear and can cause a lubricative sensation. Egg white mucous means your estrogen is peaking and ovulation is about to occur, so get ready because this is the best time to have intercourse! After this occurs, the cervical mucous becomes very thick, cloudy and forms a plug in the cervix (opening to the uterus) to prevent sperm from entering.
One of the easiest ways to determine if you are ovulation is taking your morning basal body temperature. Before ovulation waking temperature can range from 97.0 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Once ovulation has occurred temperature can go up to 97.8F and above and will stay elevated until the next menstrual cycle begins (about 12-16 days later). The rise in temperature occurs within a day or so after ovulation has occurred. The reason for the spike in temperature is due to the rise is progesterone – our heat inducing hormone. (See figure below). To learn how to take your Basal Body Temperature check out this article.
3. LH Stripes
Another great way in determining if you are ovulating is to use urine LH stripes. As described above, as the LH spikes, it will trigger the release of the egg from the follicle (meaning ovulation has occurred). An LH surge occurs 24-36 hours prior to ovulation. You can purchase LH stripes from a drugstore. Depending on how long your cycle is, you will start doing the test a few days before your expected ovulation. It is best to take the test at the end of the day, at the same time each day and you should try to not urinate at least 3-4 hours before testing.
4. Other signs
These signs are commonly experienced by women, but not normal. Please speak to your Naturopathic Doctor.
It is important to understand and recognize if you are ovulating. If ovulation is happening late in the cycle or not occurring it is important to have your hormones investigated. Using botanical medicine, supplements and dietary changes can assist in ovulation and fertility. If you would like to learn more check out www.saminamitha.com.