Ovulation is a natural process that occurs in the body during the fertile period of life following puberty. Most women have relatively good knowledge of the menstrual cycle and ovulation, however it is an intricate process of which increased knowledge can never harm.
Short summary of ovulation
Ovulation can, in short, be described as a process which occurs once during the menstrual cycle. It is initiated by hormonal changes that effect the detachment of an egg from the ovaries. Under normal conditions, the egg is detached sometime between 12 to 16 days before the next menstruation begins. This implies, that in many instances, ovulation takes place half-way between menstruations.
The process begins during the first part of the menstrual cycle. One of the eggs is prepared to be detached from the ovary. When ovulation approaches, the body releases increased amounts of the hormone oestrogen. This hormone causes the lining of the uterus to thicken, in order to create a more favourable environment for the sperm. A heightened dose of oestrogen sets off the increase of another hormone, which is called luteinising hormone, abbreviated to LH.
The increase of LH starts the process that detaches the egg. In normal cases, the egg is detached within 24 to 36 hours, or one to three days after the increase of the luteinising hormone. When the egg has detached, it can be fertilised for up to a day. If it is not fertilised within the fertile period, the lining of the uterus is expelled and menstruation occurs.
There are a number of variables which influence the chance of the egg being fertilised. Although the period during which the egg can be fertilised is only one day, sperm can be active for up to five days. It is therefore possible for an egg to be fertilised via an intercourse that took place within five days before the egg detached.
Since the increase of the LH hormone is a signal of when ovulation has occurred, it is thus an indication of high fertility.
Signals from the body
Changes take place in the body which can function as signals of when ovulation is imminent or has already taken place. Normally, changes in body temperature occur in connection with ovulation. When the egg detaches, temperature decreases somewhat. Immediately after, it increases and becomes higher than normal. The temperature will then remain higher than normal for a couple of days.
- Many women experience a stronger sex drive in the days surrounding ovulation
- Certain pain in connection with ovulation is common
The cervix produces secretion or mucous; in connection with ovulation the secretion is changed. There are four kinds of secretion that are produced during various phases of a woman’s cycle. To investigate which type of secretion is present in the vagina is easily done by inserting one or two fingers partway into the vagina. Withdraw the fingers and examine the appearance of the secretion.
Two of the four types of secretion are produced in connection with ovulation and are signals of the fertile part of the cycle:
The secretion that resembles a transparent, yellow-white liquid which is somewhat slippery, is a sign that ovulation is at hand or soon to come. The liquid should also be somewhat tough and elastic. When this type of secretion is produced from the uterus, it is an indicator of the most fertile period.
Another type of secretion is a thin watery fluid. It is clear and reminiscent of water. It should drop from the fingers during the investigation. Secretion of this type is also a sign for that you are experiencing a fertile period.
It is relatively common for women to experience pain in connection with ovulation. Approximately one in five feels some type of sensation when ovulation occurs. The sensation can vary considerably from individual to individual. It can vary from everything from hardly noticeable sensations to short-term pain.
There are considerable variations of how long the pains continue; it can be a matter of anything from a few minutes, up to several days. The pains are often present in the lower part of the abdomen and pelvis, but they can also be felt in the lower part of the back. Pain experienced in connection with ovulation is also called ovulation pain, as well as by the somewhat more exotic name mittelschmerz. The pains are usually present sometime around the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Ovulation can also be interrupted or become absent. Difficulties resulting in problems with ovulation are usually sorted within the category of menstruation disturbances. There are two principal types of disturbances in ovulation.
The first type is called oligoovulation, which means irregular or seldom occurring ovulation. A common distinction of this condition is that the menstrual cycle is longer than 36 days, or that there are fewer than 8 cycles per year.
The second type of disturbance occurs when ovulation becomes absent. This interruption is called anovulation. This condition is often found by unpredictable menstrual cycles which can vary in their initiation and their length, as well as in the volume of bleeding. In addition, the bleeding can cease or be unusually voluminous.
The body secretes fluids
One may experience brown discharge in connection with ovulation, which can appear somewhat nasty. It is relatively common that a clear fluid is secreted from the vagina during ovulation. When the liquid becomes brown, it means that a minor bleeding has occurred and turned the liquid to a brown colour. This happens from time to time, and is not dangerous. It should not happen regularly; if it happens every month, your doctor should be consulted.