If there is something you want to do 12 times a year, it is to ovulate. We used to think that the centerpiece of the menstrual cycle was the "period" itself, but we've learned that the real star of the show is ovulation. Having regular ovulation is not only important for fertility (what determines whether we can get pregnant or not), it is also an important indicator of your general health and well-being.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation involves the release of an egg from the follicle into the fallopian tube . Ovulation usually occurs around day fourteen of a twenty-eight-day cycle (a few ovulate on day 14). If you have a shorter cycle, it happens earlier and if you have a longer cycle, it happens later.
In general, you could explain ovulation like this - if you are ovulating regularly, it is a good sign that your body is healthy, you have enough nutrition and that you can handle the stress in your life well (and maybe not have too much physical and mental stress in your life).
Why is ovulation so important for health?
As a woman, our hormones change during the month , which means that estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, LH and FSH (our sex hormones) will vary depending on where we are in our menstrual cycle .
Estrogen increases (contributes to biological confidence boost, increases sex drive and so on) and peaks at ovulation while progesterone (the relaxing, feel-good hormone) rises after ovulation (and only if) ovulation has occurred. Many of us only think of our hormones as something important when having children, but this is not the case. Our hormones and above all the balance between them are crucial for our health. When our hormones are in balance, our body can function as it is meant to do, we feel good and enjoy so many wonderful benefits and effects.
Why estrogen and progesterone balance are such important components
Having enough estrogen and an increase in the first half of the cycle ( phase 1 and phase 2 ) is important as it affects our mood (a biological confidence boost), we get increased energy, an increased sex drive, it also has an impact on skin, brain health and that we have a strong and healthy skeleton.
When we ovulate , progesterone increases ( phase 3 ). Simply explained, we could say that progesterone balances the effects of estrogen and supports a potential pregnancy (helps the egg to stick and stay in the uterus), increases metabolism, reduces inflammation and makes us calm and relaxed - so there are many benefits of progesterone. When estrogen and progesterone dance with each other (have the right levels between them), we usually experience a regular menstrual cycle without any PMS symptoms .
How do I know if I have ovulated?
To know which phase you are in, you can use the following methods:
Measure your basal body temperature
The best way to confirm that you have ovulated is to take your basal body temperature first thing in the morning, preferably at the same time every morning. The temperature rises by about 0.2-0.4 degrees one to two days after ovulation. The rise in temperature lasts for a few days or throughout phase three, which is a sign that you are producing enough progesterone. Note – basal body temperature is measured with a thermometer that is more sensitive than a normal fever thermometer.
Look for fertile secretions
By noting changes in your cervical secretions, you can find out where you are in your menstrual cycle, if you are fertile and determine when you are moving into the next phase. The changes you should note is the feel, whether the discharge is dry, creamy or slippery. Also observe if the secretion is white, transparent or stretchy. When you're fertile, it's often transparent, stretchy, and slippery. When you ovulate, that is, enter phase 3, there is less secretion and you often have a dry feeling when you dry yourself.
Feel the cervix
You can feel the Cervix, i.e. the cervix that sits inside the vagina, to know which phase you are in. You do this by feeling how open/closed the cervix is. When the Cervix is open (so the sperm can enter) you are fertile.
Take an ovulation test
Through ovulation tests, you can see if the brain sends out a hormone called LH, but just because you get a result on an ovulation test, it does not mean that ovulation has occurred. So the best way to confirm that ovulation has occurred is by taking your temperature in combination with symptoms.
Important reminder about ovulation and fertility: Sperm can live for about five days inside the uterus, so if you don't want to get pregnant, make sure to protect yourself during the period before ovulation as well as during ovulation. After ovulation, the egg can live for about 24 hours.
How do I support ovulation through lifestyle?
Some general tips when it will support the body to ovulate are as follows:
Easier said than done, we know. But to try to reduce stress is a happy pill for your hormones. Stress can be both external and internal stress such as: overtraining, eating too little, nutritional deficiencies, caffeine and alcohol as internal stress such as critical and judgmental thoughts, a feeling of not being enough or trauma.
Eating enough both when it comes to getting enough is essential for the body to feel safe enough (safe enough to bring a child into the world). Eat enough fat (which are building blocks for creating your important hormones), protein (which builds the body and balances hormones), and complex carbohydrates (which provide energy and fiber) to keep your blood sugar stable.
Make sure you get enough nutrition
In order for the body and the menstrual cycle to function optimally, it is important that it has enough nutrients, i.e. the vitamins and minerals you need to be able to produce our hormones.
Eat foods that keep blood sugar stable
If we don't have balanced blood sugar, we won't have balanced hormones either. Our hormones and our menstrual cycle love it when we get healthy, high-quality fats, protein and complex carbohydrates that keep our blood sugar stable. Keep in mind that the best way to support ovulation for you depends largely on the underlying reason why you are not ovulating in the first place.
Remember: Changes in our hormones can take time
Keep in mind that the best way to support ovulation for you depends largely on the underlying reason why you are not ovulating in the first place. Changes in our menstrual cycle and our hormones do not change overnight. We are so used to things going quickly so many times it can feel like an eternity when we want to see an effect immediately. But with the right changes in diet and lifestyle, you will get results.
When we talk about changes in the menstrual cycle, it usually takes about three months for a follicle (small fluid-like sacs that carry your eggs) to develop before ovulation. This means that it can take this long to see noticeable changes in ovulation and the menstrual cycle. Some changes in diet, for example, we can feel immediately (for example, if we support the body with extra nutrition and fat during phase three, which means that blood sugar does not spike) - while others may take longer. This of course depends on your starting position, imbalance and lifestyle.
Throughout this time, it is important that you remind yourself to have patience and trust . Good things take time, even if you don't see the differences on the outside, things are happening on the inside. You got this!
Disclaimer : This blog post is for educational purposes. It is not for diagnosing, treating or curing. We are all unique. If you have health problems, it is important to discuss them with an expert.
If you want to read more posts within the same theme, we recommend the following posts:
- What does a normal menstrual cycle look like?
- This is how you increase progesterone naturally
– Part I: Everything You Need to Know About Progesterone (And How to Reduce PMS)
– Part II: Everything You Need to Know About Estrogen (And How to Reduce PMS)
- How do I track my menstrual cycle after birth control pills?