What is ovulation?
Ovulation occurs when your ovaries release one or more unfertilized eggs each month as a part of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation is the point at which your body is the most fertile, and you are the most likely to get pregnant.
When it comes to understanding when you are ovulating, your body is an important resource. From your cervical mucus and cervical firmness, to specific pains, to your body temperature, there are many signs and symptoms you can monitor. Carefully track your symptoms in order to calculate your ovulation window.
Tracking your cervical mucus and other symptoms is an effective fertility awareness method. Whether you are trying to avoid getting pregnant or trying to conceive, gauging your symptoms can help you accurately determine when you are ovulating.
If you are trying to determine your ovulation date as a form of birth control, it is recommended that you track your symptoms for at least one full menstrual cycle and consult with your physician.
Signs and symptoms of ovulation
Ovulation, a phase in the menstrual cycle, occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovaries and into the fallopian tubes — where it can be fertilized by incoming sperm. Typically, a woman will release one egg per month about two weeks after menstruation begins.
Ovulation can be indicated by a wide range of symptoms — some noticeable and some subtle. They may include:
Increased basal body temperature
One of the most important symptoms to track in order to determine when you are ovulating is your basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature occurs during sleep and is best measured when you wake up first thing in the morning. It is your body’s lowest natural temperature.
Pain in ovaries
Mittelschmerz describes a one-sided backache or cramping that often occurs during ovulation. You may experience ovulation pains as a sharp pain, slight twinge, or dull ache. This pain often occurs as a result of the ovary's follicle bursting to release the egg.
Changes in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus — the fluid in the vagina that helps the sperm travel to the egg during fertilization — fluctuates throughout your cycle and determines how fertile you are at a given time.
Research shows that tracking the changes in your cervical mucus throughout the month is one of the best ways to track ovulation.
During ovulation, estrogen rises and causes an increase in cervical mucus. At the peak of your fertility, your cervical mucus may be:
- Very wet
- Resembling an egg-white texture
You produce the most cervical mucus during your fertile window. You are 2 to 3 times more likely to conceive during peak fertility.
After ovulation, your body starts to produce less cervical mucus. The mucus you produce may appear clouded, have a sticky consistency, and eventually dry up. If you are not pregnant, your cervical mucus will decrease, but if the egg is fertilized, your hormones will increase and produce more discharge.
Increased sex drive
An increase in libido around the middle of your cycle can be a sign of ovulation.
Causes of ovulation problems
If you do not experience any of the symptoms of ovulation, it is possible that your body is not ovulating regularly. This can be caused by:
- Medication side effects
- Unhealthy douchin
- Excessively low body mass index (BMI)
- Hormonal imbalance
Diagnosing ovulation problems
Tracking the symptoms of ovulation is an important tool for birth control and successful conception. However, these symptoms can also be important indicators of your reproductive health. If you notice unusual changes in your symptoms or experience sudden or severe pain, contact your doctor. If your doctor suspects an underlying condition, they may order additional tests.
Treatments for ovulation problems
If your doctor determines that you are having trouble ovulating, they may prescribe you medications or therapy for stimulating ovulation. If stimulating ovulation is unsuccessful, your doctor may discuss additional tests or treatments for infertility, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
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American Society of Reproductive Medicine: "Medications for Inducing Ovulation."
British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: "Cervical mucus and identification of the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle."
Contraception: "Accuracy of the peak day of cervical mucus as a biological marker of fertility."
Fertility and Sterility: "Cervical mucus monitoring prevalence and associated fecundability in women trying to conceive."
Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation: "Cervical mucus and prediction of the time of ovulation."
The Linacre Quarterly: "Physiological Signs of Ovulation and Fertility Readily Observable by Women."
National Health Service: "Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle."
Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology: "Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility."
Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Diagnosis and Treatment of Unexplained Infertility."
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