Understanding Ovulation

May 18, 2009
Ovulation is a part of a woman's menstrual cycle when an egg is released from the ovaries. The conception is most likely to occur during ovulation when sperm meets with an egg. In general, ovulation takes place once every month until menopause, apart from episodes of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Ovulation is coordinated by a range of neuroendocrine processes that take part in the hypothalamus located in the brain, pituitary gland and the ovaries.
Usually, ovulation occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle as follows:
  1. The hypothalamus sends a signal to pituitary gland to produce follicle stimulating hormone, which leads to the development of follicles, which has an immature ovum. Typically, only one egg matures around two weeks before the beginning of the next menstrual period.

  2. As the follicle matures, it secrets the increasing amount of oestrogen hormone. This prompts the release of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone by hypothalamus and signals to pituitary gland to produce to release luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. The mature egg is released from a follicle and is sent to the fallopian tube. The egg lives for 24 hours and if it meets the sperm, the conception will occur. If not, the egg will die.

  3. During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle the follicle will produce progesterone hormone. If the conception did not occur and the egg did not implant, the menstruation occurs.

Signs of ovulation

Though the signs of ovulation are quite subtle, a woman can identify a number of symptoms that indicate ovulation.

Cervical mucus changes

As you approach ovulation, your cervical mucus changes its consistency and color from a bit sticky and creamy to slippery and stretchy resembling raw egg white.

Body basal temperature rise

Women who record their body basal temperature as natural family planning will notice the small increase in body basal temperature of 0.4 to 0.6 after ovulation has occurred.

Pain in the abdomen

Some women feel abdominal pain during ovulation and in some cases experience slight blood spotting, which is considered to be quite normal.

Breast tenderness

Many women report about the increased sensitivity and tenderness of their breasts that occurs during ovulation and during the luteal phase.

Enhanced Libido

Some women notice that they feel more amorous during their most fertile days. It is explained by the fact that during ovulation the high level of oestrogen hormone contributes to heightened sexual drive.

Ovulation problems

In some cases, women can experience difficulties with conception due to ovulation problems. Anovulation is a condition when ovulation does not occur. Anovulation is caused by a number of problems, including polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity, excessive exercising, eating disorders such as anorexia, weight loss, stress, certain medications, hormonal imbalance and others.

Tips to avoid ovulation problems

Keep up within normal weight range

Women who are overweight or underweight are more likely to suffer from anovulatory cycles. Moderate exercising and healthy diet are the keys to normal weight and fertility. Do not compare yourself with other women, as your normal weight depends on your build, height and other individual characteristics.

Reduce stress levels

Chronic stress disrupts hormonal balance and may lead to ovulation problems. Try some relaxation techniques and learn how to cope with stress with the help of yoga, meditation, massage or other methods. Get enough sleep and rest.

Change your eating habits

Eat properly on a regular basis. Avoid skipping meals, fad diets, fasting or unhealthy eating as this often leads to ovulation problems. If you suspect you have such eating disorders as bulimia or anorexia, you may need professional help.