The stages of ovulation
It is during the follicular phase that your eggs first begin to mature, in preparation for ovulation. The follicular phase occurs between the first day of menstruation and ovulation.
During the follicular phase, your hypothalamus releases gonadatropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a special hormone which triggers your pituitary gland to act. In response, your pituitary gland releases a special hormone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which triggers egg follicles to begin to mature within your ovaries.
Between ten and twenty egg follicles will mature, each containing an egg ready to be fertilized. However, only one egg will complete the maturation process and be released into the fallopian tube.
During this phase your egg is released from its ovary. Triggered by estrogen from your ovaries, your pituitary gland releases luteinizing hormone (LH), which causes the egg to burst out of its follicle. The egg is released into the fallopian tubes, and can survive for 12 to 24 hours before dying.
After ovulation, the luteal phase begins. During this time, the leftover egg follicle turns into the corpus luteum, and releases both estrogen and progesterone in order to prepare for pregnancy. If you do not become pregnant, the corpus luteum dies, and you will begin your period.
Signs of Ovulation
Unlike other animals, humans do not show any outward signs of ovulation. However, there are a few subtle symptoms that you can look out for.
By paying attention to these symptoms of ovulation, you will be able to predict when you are ovulating, and will be more likely to become pregnant. Ovulation symptoms include:
- mild abdominal discomfort or "ovulation cramps" (may be caused by rupturing of egg follicle)
- change in cervical mucous (will become clear, sticky, and stretchy)
- increase in basal body temperature (usually increases by 0.4 to 0.6 degrees)
- breast tenderness
- change in firmness of cervix
Ovulation is not always regular and this can often be a problem, especially if you are trying to conceive. These are a few lifestyle changes that you make to help to regulate your ovulation:
- Reduce your stress. Stress, fatigue, and emotional ups and downs can all affect ovulation. Try to manage your stress through relaxation or moderate exercise.
- Maintain proper nutrition. Don't skip meals, crash diet, or fast as this can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle.
- Watch your weight. If you are seriously overweight or underweight your body may not be ovulating regularly.
- Don't exercise too much. Overdoing it can throw your body off its natural schedule and mess with your hormones.