On Ovulation - www.clarabailey.com

On Ovulation

Ovulation is the main event of the menstrual cycle. You cannot have a true period without ovulation. It is what allows us to produce one of our main hormones, progesterone.  The hormones involved in ovulation have mental, emotional, and spiritual effects on our beings. By understanding what these are, you can leverage them in your everyday life.

You also can be forewarned to the challenges that can present themselves at this phase of the menstrual cycle. I’m also going to share my favourite naturopathic self-care tips to make sure that ovulation is a smooth process for you.

What is Ovulation?

Let’s start with science! Ovulation is the release of an egg from your ovary. It is a quick event that has a long build-up. Once released, your egg will hang-tight in the fallopian tubes for 12 to 24 hours. The entire fertile phase (the fertile window) can last a lot longer than this. It can range from one day to seven days.

Understanding the fertile window is very important as this is the grand prelude to the main event of ovulation.

Ovulation occurs roughly two weeks before your period. Again, like all things menstrual cycle-related, this is variable and can be between nine and 16 days. If you’re trying to conceive, you’re most likely to conceive if you have sex two to three days before ovulation and one day after.

Ovulation & Fertility

At birth, you’re born with one to two million immature eggs contained within your ovaries. Approximately 300 to 400 of these will be ovulated during your reproductive lifetime. It takes around 100 days for an immature egg to reach full maturity. Which is way menstrual cycle health is playing the long game!

During ovulation, the walls of your womb also begin to thicken to prepare for a fertilised egg to implant. Think about your body trying to arrange a beautiful, cozy blanket that is plush and lush and ready to care for a precious guest. This is your womb lining.

For pregnancy to occur a sperm cell must fertilise the egg within that 12 to 24 hour period after ovulation. One egg is released at each ovulation. But there is an exception in the case of fraternal twins/triplets etc. where two eggs are released. This will be in the same 24 hour period. If healthy and fertilised, your egg (which is now called a blastocyte) will implant into the lining of your womb six to 12 days after ovulation.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of ovulation is that every period is an ovulatory period. It’s possible to experience a bleed (that seems like a period), but it’s actually a withdrawal bleed. This is an anovulatory cycle.

How to know when you’re ovulating?

Let’s talk about the “Fertile Window”!

The fertile window refers to the short time in the menstrual cycle that you’re able to become pregnant. This spans from five to six days, but it can be as long as seven days, or as short as one day.

Estrogen has an effect on the glands in your cervix to produce a fertile mucus which is experienced as quite wet and slippery. The beginning of your fertile window is signalled by that moistness in your knickers. This is a sign that estrogen is on the scene!

There are a couple of ways to track your fertile window and ovulation:

1. Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus is also referred to as cervical fluid. You may have thought of this as “discharge”.

2. Basal Body Temperature

12 to 48 hours after ovulation occurs, you experience a rise in basal body temperature. You can track this by taking your basal body temperature every morning.

3. Ovulation Test Kit

These kits measure for a hormone called luteinizing hormone, which will rise 24 to 36 hours before ovulation.

Charting your cervical mucus and/or using ovulatory test kits will give you a prospective sign of when ovulation is about to occur.  Basal body temperature is a retrospective sign. The rise in temperature confirms ovulation has occurred.

This is a distinction to remember! Many apps use only the basal body temperature reading alone to try and predict ovulation. This is essential knowledge to have if you’re wanting to avoid pregnancy or to achieve pregnancy.

How to chart ovulation the symptothermal way.

I write and teach about this a lot in my work, (make sure you check out my blog “The Beginner’s Guide to the Fertility Awareness Method“). Fertility charting is simple once you understand the basics, and you start practising.

**It involves noting down your: **

  • cervical mucus sensation
  • basal body temperature in the beginning
  • cervix position (optional)

It doesn’t take long to becomes second nature. I still think it’s wild knowing day-to-day whether I can or cannot get pregnant based on two simple signs.

It’s essential to accurately chart and interpret your signs to understand when you’re truly ovulating. Working with a trained fertility awareness educator or taking a course is a valuable investment in your reproductive health.

Don’t use any app that claims to predict ovulation. And do not use any method that relies on dates or temperature readings alone. You can dive deeper into this over here.

Common questions about ovulation and the fertile window:

How does tracking ovulation help me get pregnant/know if I’m pregnant?

First of all, it helps you get your timing right! It’s the difference between going to the train station at any random time and hoping your train will be there. Versus, having the timetable and knowing what time to get to the train station to get on your train.

Secondly, pinpointing when you ovulate will give you a very clear idea when it’s a suitable time to test for pregnancy if that is what your aim is.

Anything longer than 17 days post-ovulation, (which is also called the luteal phase), is a sign of pregnancy. At this stage in your cycle, the pregnancy hormone hCG is high enough to be picked up on a home pregnancy kit.

How long will it take for me to ovulate again after miscarriage?

Ovulation can occur as soon as two weeks after an early pregnancy loss. Still, your cycle may take longer to adjust with a later miscarriage. Timing is going to vary from person to person.

It’s important to know that miscarrying once does not mean that you’re more likely to experience future pregnancy losses. At least 85% of those who miscarried once went on to have successful pregnancies. Even after two to three losses, 75% were able to conceive.

It’s important to give yourself time to grieve for your loss. Take excellent care of your body and soul. Some of the guidelines within this post will help.

Ovulation, the cycle’s bloom

I like to use the language of menstruality to explain ovulation. We draw parallel’s between the outer seasons, to the inner seasons provided by the menstrual cycle. I find it gives people a down-to-earth way to describe what they’re experiencing.

Ovulation is the time of your inner summer. It’s a time that often has us feeling good! Estrogen (remember, this is high right now) has a relationship with serotonin, which is our feel-good brain chemical. When estrogen is high, so is serotonin. Life can feel a lot easier and inflow. You have access to a lot more energy than you do have at other points of your cycle.

This is an excellent time to organise events where you need to be more social and extroverted. Networking events, social parties, giving that presentation at work, going out and sharing your ideas in an extra charming, enigmatic way … this is an ideal time of the cycle to do that!

Ovulation Cramps, Pain & Bleeding

It’s not uncommon for folks to experience some pain or cramping in their lower pelvis during ovulation. This is called Mittelschmerz, ‘middle pain’ in German. It can also be accompanied with light blood or spotting during. Following the guidelines at the end of this blog post can help ease these discomforts.

Printable moon map and fertility chart by Clara Bitcon Bailey Naturopath

Ovulation Self-Care

Ovulation is sensitive to many factors that can prevent it from occurring, or making it difficult to ovulate. These factors can be:

  • stress
  • illness
  • disruption to your regular routine
  • depleted in vital ovulatory nutrients
  • have chronic health issues (such as low thyroid function, undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances).

Irregular, very short (less than 25 days), or very long cycles (longer than 35 days) are due to ovulatory disruption. If you do experience menstrual cycle discomforts, it’s important to understand what your unique root causes are. Your menstrual cycle is a health report. A healthy cycle (which includes both your period and ovulation) is a byproduct of health.

Here are some specific remedies to support ovulation and ease any discomforts.

Herbal medicines are some of the most brilliant supportive allies for cyclical health.  Here are three of my favourites:

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)

Wild Yam is a tuber that has been used in herbal medicine for many years. It’s specific for ovulatory pain and spasms. It is also brilliant if you experience any other kind of cramping, such as digestive cramping or menstrual cramping. I find that a small dose taken regularly is the best. 15 drops in a little bit of water twice a day, increase to four times a day during ovulation.

Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)

Cramp bark is not as specific as wild yam for ovulation, as it is a general spasm reliever. It can make you feel like a giant marshmallow, which is an enjoyable feeling. If you do need to be able to focus and go about your day without feeling slightly sedated, it’s not the best option. But it’s beneficial for ovulation cramps. Take 30 drops in a little water four times a day when you’re experiencing ovulation cramps.

Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)

Chasteberry, also known as Vitex, is an extraordinary herb that is useful for so many menstrual cycle issues. It has a specific ability to help support the journey of an immature egg to ovulation. There are particular ways to use vitex, and it’s not always indicated for everyone.  I recommend that you read this in-depth profile I’ve written to give you the full insight into how vitex works and how best to use it.

Magnesium

Magnesium taken as glycinate or citrate is such a simple yet effective mineral for hormone balance. It helps regulate blood sugars, eases cramps and is involved in the production of many of the essential hormones involved in ovulation. Chronic stress depletes magnesium, which is why I often refer to it as the modern human’s mineral. Take 300mg once a day over three months, and notice the gentle shifts you’ll likely experience not only in your menstrual cycle but your mood too.

Other Ovulatory Noteworthy Nutrients

Vitamin B-6 helps ensure that progesterone levels that produced after ovulation are sustained, which is important for general menstrual cycle health.

Zinc, vitamin D, and iodine are all essential vitamins and nutrients required for healthy ovulation. If you have a deficiency in any of these, this is enough to impair ovulation. I have seen time and time again when these nutrient gaps are corrected menstrual cycles fall into place to a happy hum.

Alpha Lipoic Acid, Inositol, N-acetylcysteine, and coenzyme Q10 are go-to supplements that I recommend in cases of fertility challenges, or for folks wanting to conceive later in life.

Balanced Nourishment

Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of good quality fats and proteins is key for healthy ovulation. If you’re not getting enough nourishment, this can signify to your body that it is in some kind of danger, and creates its own form of stress on the body.

Your body will always focus on survival over procreation. Ensuring that you’re getting a balance of nutrients, eaten in a calm environment is one of the simplest ways for regulating not only ovulation but all menstrual cycle issues.

To listen to this blog post, press play:

 

With love,


References & Resources

A prospective multicentre trial of the ovulation method of natural family planning. I. the teaching phase**Supported by the Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. (1981). Fertility and Sterility, 36(2), 152–158. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0015-0282(16)45671-2

Ball, M. (1976). A prospective field trial of the ‘ovulation method’ of avoiding conception. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 6(2), 63–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/0028-2243(76)90004-6

Kalantaridou, S. N., Makrigiannakis, A., Zoumakis, E., & Chrousos, G. P. (2004). Stress and the female reproductive system. Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 62(1), 61–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jri.2003.09.004

McQuade Crawford, A. (1997). Herbal Remedies for Women: Discover Nature’s Wonderful Secrets Just for Women: Amanda McQuade Crawford. Harmony. https://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Remedies-Women-Discover-Wonderful/dp/0761509801/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532018101&sr=1-1&keywords=herbal+remedies+for+women+discover+nature

Briden, L. (2015). Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods (First Edition January 2015 edition). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Pope, A., & Wurlitzer, S. H. (2017). Wild power: Discover the magic of your menstrual cycle and awaken the feminine path to power. Hay House.

Trickey, R. (2004). Women, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle: Herbal & Medical Solutions from Adolescence to Menopause (Fully revised and updated edition). Allen & Unwin.

Weschler, T. (2015). Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health (Revised, Updated edition). William Morrow Paperbacks.

Clara Bailey On Ovulation

Women's Health Issues & Conditions

January 29, 2020

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