How do you know when you are ovulating? I ask my patients this question all the time! We are often told that ovulation occurs on day 14 of the menstrual cycle. However, this is rarely the case, even for those who have a regular 28 day cycle. Let’s explore the hormonal fluctuation that occurs during ovulation and the key signs to look out for.
In the lead up to ovulation, the ripening follicle secretes more and more estrogen. The endometrial lining becomes thick, juicy and rich with blood vessels. Yin and Blood are building and flourishing. Once estrogen levels are abundant, the pituitary gland responds by releasing Luteinising Hormone (LH). This surge in LH prepares the dominant follicle to release an egg from the ovary into the eager finger tips of the fallopian tube. At the same time, progesterone starts secreting in preparation for the luteal phase of the cycle. In Chinese medicine, we describe this process as the transformation from Yin to Yang in the menstrual cycle.
The ebb and flow of hormones in the lead up and during ovulation are reflected as physical changes in the body. These signs can be useful tools if you are trying to conceive, seeking a natural method of contraception or if you’re wanting to deepen your understanding of your menstrual cycle. Here is what to look out for!
- Changes to cervical fluid. Clear, stretchy, vaginal discharge is secreted in the days leading up to ovulation as a response to a surplus of estrogen. You might feel more wet or notice a slippery sensation when wiping. The mucous is often clear and stretchy and has a similar consistency to egg whites. The purpose of the mucous is to help transport sperm from the vagina into the cervix and therefore its arrival indicates the fertile time of the month.
- A rise in your Basal Body Temperature (BBT). Progesterone starts to release during ovulation and continues to increase throughout the luteal phase of the cycle. This causes a sudden rise in BBT, commonly between 0.3-0.5 degrees Celsius. Ovulation is indicated when the waking temperature increases by 0.3 or more degrees and continues to stay high for at least 3 consecutive days. The day of ovulation is the temperature before the rise.
- Changes to the shape, position and texture of the cervix. The ligaments supporting the uterus begin to tighten in response to the peak of estrogen prior to ovulation. As a result, the uterus moves higher up in the body and positions the cervix higher in the vagina. The cervix is also open and softer to palpate during ovulation. For those who wish to check for these changes, a squatting position may be easier to palpate the cervix.
- Increased libido. Some people may notice their libido increase in the lead up to ovulation as a response to the rising estrogen levels. You may notice a feeling of confidence, increased energy or the fact that everybody around you looks sexy!
- Abdominal discomfort. Some people describe one sided low abdominal twinging or mild cramping during ovulation. This occurs when the egg is released from the ovary and makes its way along the fallopian tube and into the uterus. Others may experience debilitating ovulation pain which can be treated and managed with Chinese medicine.
- Other signs – the fluctuation of hormones around ovulation may give rise to sensitive nipples, tender breasts, bloating, mood changes, headaches.
Knowing what to look out for during ovulation will give you a better understanding of your menstrual cycle and allows a deeper insight into the consistency of ovulation.
Giulia is available at Mornington Chinese Medicine from 2pm-8pm Monday’s and Wednesday’s.
138 Tanti Avenue, Mornington, VIC
03 5973 6886