Perhaps you have learned a good deal about the menstrual cycle back in Health class or Education class, if you were fortunate to have them, but do you really understand what goes on during ovulation?
As a woman, knowledge about your own menstrual cycle is imperative in order to ensure optimum reproductive health. If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, then it is necessary that you are aware of what goes on during the menstrual cycle.
Ovulation is the phase of the menstrual cycle wherein a mature egg is released from the ovaries. Typically, ovulation occurs 14 days before a woman’s next period and lasts for only one day. In this phase, a woman is considered most fertile and it is the most ideal time to try to get pregnant.
In each menstrual cycle, an egg will develop and mature in one of the ovaries. When it is ready to be released, the mature egg will travel from the ovary to the uterus via the fallopian tube (this is called the process of ovulation). When a woman has unprotected sex, the sperm will travel and meet with the mature egg, where fertilization can begin.
However, when there is no fertilization, the lining of the uterus sheds along with menstrual blood during the menstruation phase.
How can you tell when you are ovulating?
For women who are trying to get pregnant, recognizing the signs and symptoms of ovulation is mostly necessary:
- Changes in cervical mucus. When the ovulation stage of the menstrual cycle approaches, there are some changes in the color and consistency of the cervical mucus. Near ovulation, the body produces more estrogen, which causes the cervical mucus to be more like an egg white in consistency. This consistency of the mucus helps the sperm to swim to the mature egg for fertilization.
- Painful or tender breasts. For many women, it’s quite normal to get sore breasts at some point during their menstrual cycle. However, you should know that is an indicator of nearing ovulation.
- Mild pain in the lower abdomen. If you get a painful sensation in the lower abdomen that lasts for a few minutes or a few seconds, don’t worry. In some cases, women experience ovulation pain that can be remedied with OTC drugs. However, if this pain becomes severe or persistent, see a GP about it immediately.
- Increased sensitivity to smell. When a woman is fertile, she will usually be more sensitive to smell.
- Heightened sex drive. A woman that is near ovulation will usually experience an increased sex drive. This change in libido can help a couple’s chances of getting pregnant sooner.
If you have trouble recognizing your own ovulation signs and symptoms, you can use Flo to keep track of your menstrual cycle. In the app, it uses your previous period dates to predict your next ovulation day so you can plan ahead if you’re trying to conceive (or alternatively, if you’re not trying to get pregnant). On the other hand, you can also use an ovulation kit to test if you’re already fertile.
If you have sex while you are at your most fertile stage but still don’t get pregnant, then you may have experienced an anovulatory cycle. In an anovulatory cycle, there is no ovulation that occurs during the menstrual cycle. It sounds scary, but it is completely normal. If you suspect that you have anovulatory cycles, see your GP for a diagnosis.
What to do during ovulation
- If you are trying to get pregnant. For women who are trying to get pregnant, having sex during (and a few days before) the period of ovulation has the highest chances of turning into a pregnancy. Getting the timing right may be difficult for the first few tries, but don’t give up hope. Establish open communication with your partner and stay away from stress that can affect your menstrual cycle.
- If you are not trying to get pregnant. On the other hand, if you do not want to get pregnant, it is best to abstain from unprotected sex in the days leading to and during your ovulation phase. Alternatively, you can use birth control pills to do away with the process of ovulation entirely.
This is a guest post from Flo, the period tracking app.