There are signs that let you know when you’re ovulating; it may be pronounced in some people more than other and in one cycle than the other but the tell-tale signs are always there.
Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary, during the monthly menstrual cycle, into the Fallopian tube where it might get fertilized by a sperm cell. Ovulation is the reason behind pregnancy in females as it is impossible for a woman to get pregnant when she does not ovulate (there’s more on this in understanding PCOS).
In this article, we will discuss what ovulation is, the processes of ovulation, the players, that is, the parts of the body that are involved in ovulation and of course, how you can know when you’re ovulating.
What is Ovulation?
The human body is an impressive organization of organs, tissues, cells, and hormones. The hormones are the triggers that tell the organs, tissues, and cells what to do and when to do them. In the female body, ovulation is a central activity when it comes to reproduction.
Ovulation is the release of an egg, sometimes more, from one or the two ovaries during the menstrual cycle, into the fallopian tube. In the fallopian tube, the egg, or eggs are likely to be fertilized by a sperm cell if the woman engages in coitus. As part of the menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs halfway through the menstrual cycle. That means for an average 28-days cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14.
The process of Ovulation
Ovulation doesn’t just occur when it’s been two weeks after your last menstruation, your body prepares for it for weeks and as soon as your menstrual cycle has begun. The period of ovulation – that is the release of egg from the ovary into the fallopian tube – usually takes about 12 to 24 hours. Before this release occurs, some things have to happen.
The eggs to be released into the fallopian tube, if fertilization that will lead to pregnancy is to take place, must have attained maturity. The growth and maturity of the egg is ensured by the hormone, Follicle-stimulating Hormone, FSH.
The influence of hormones is central to the success of ovulation and fertilization, hence, pregnancy. Ovulation does not occur without the express authority of certain hormones. As we have just seen, the Follicle-stimulating hormone determines the growth and maturity of eggs.
The actual release of these mature eggs is determined by another hormone.
This is the actual ovulation and it is controlled by the Luteinizing hormone. This hormone helps in the release of the mature eggs that then travel through the Fallopian tube into the uterus.
Parts of the Body involved in Ovulation
There are major and minor players as far as ovulation is concerned in the female body. The major body parts that are involved in ovulation include organs, tissues, cells, and hormones. They include:
The ovary is the carrier of the eggs. It houses the eggs from immaturity till they are mature and ready to be fertilized. The ovaries are two, and they release mature eggs one after the other in different cycles. That is, if the right ovary releases a mature egg in the current cycle, the left ovary does in the next cycle.
The ovum is the egg that is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube on maturity. It is the cell that gets fertilized before pregnancy can occur. Its maturity is influenced by the follicle-stimulating hormone and its release by luteinizing hormone.
The fallopian tube receives the released mature eggs from the ovary. It serves as the passage way for the egg to its destination, the uterus, where it is implanted.
Follicle stimulating Hormone
This hormone is responsible for the maturation of the eggs and is at its highest during ovulation.
Luteinizing hormone is responsible for the release of the mature eggs into the fallopian tube. it is also highest at ovulation.
Signs of Ovulation
As it is with almost every significant occurrence in the body, ovulation comes with signs that help you know when you’re ovulating and when your best chance of getting pregnant, or avoiding pregnancy is. Some of the signs are:
Fluctuating basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature is the temperature your body records when you wake from sleep, that is, before you stand from bed or engage in any activity. Your basal body temperature, BBT, fluctuates with hormonal changes and is therefore highest when your body is in preparation for pregnancy – that is when progesterone level is highest.
The lower basal body temperature you will achieve will be when your body is not preparing for pregnancy, and that is during the first half of your cycle, when oestrogen dominates. However, when ovulation occurs, your BBT will be at its lowest.
It is common to feel slight cramps in the lower abdomen when it’s ovulating. These irregular cramps usually last for about 12 to 24 hours – the duration for ovulation.
You may notice spots of blood on your underwear.
Swollen vulva or vagina
A swollen vulva or vagina is associated with the flow of blood to the vagina and vulva for increased ease of copulation. It usually happens when the body is at its most fertile.
You may have an increased desire to engage in sexual activities during ovulation. This isn’t always the case with everyone and it differs from cycle to cycle.
Clearer and thinner vaginal discharge
One of the best ways to tell when if you’re ovulating is to take note of the discharge that comes out through your vagina. Normally, after your period, you hardly have any lubrication or discharge in your vagina. However, as the weeks progress, you start to notice the lubrication again.
When the discharge is thin and clear, and it can form a consistent stretch when you press your fingers together and separate them, you are ovulating.
Your cervix is mostly closed. However, it begins to open up when you approach your ovulation period.in some women, this opening can be felt while not so much in others. The opening of the cervix is to allow the easy passage of the sperm cells if and when they come through the vagina to fertilize the released egg.
Know When You Are Ovulating by Using a Prediction Kit
Ovulation period is quite easy to know if you know what to look out for. The signs of ovulation are there, exhibited by your body, to help you know when you are most fertile. However, some women find it difficult to calculate their ovulation period while some find it downright confusing. To help with that, you can predict when your ovulation occurs by using an ovulation prediction kit.
The ovulation predictor kit helps you foretell when you are likely to have your ovulation by testing for luteinizing hormone in your urine. The kit is stick-like and it only requires that you dip the stick in your urine or urinate on it and wait for it to calculate your LH level. It gives its prediction as positive when your ovulation is about 12 to 24 hours away.
Ovulation is an important part of the menstrual cycle and without it, there is no fertilization, or pregnancy. When couples are seeking to get pregnant, the woman’s ovulation period is the first thing to ascertain to increases the chances of getting what they desire.
The ovary, egg, Fallopian tube, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone are important parts of ovulation and to know when you will be ovulating, watch out for the discharge that comes from the cervix through your vagina.
You can also get to know by watching out for when your basal body temperature is lowest or to get more accurate result, use an ovulation predictor kit.
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Ayomide, is a Health professional, who has worked in most healthcare unit and has a background in Nursing.