Symptoms, calendar, is it painful, and more

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Ovulation refers to the release of an egg from an ovary. Tracing it can be an important part of fertility awareness.

During ovulation, a part of the ovary called the ovarian follicle releases an ovum. The egg is also known as an ovum, oocyte or female gamete. It is only released when adulthood is reached.

The egg then moves down into the fallopian tube, where it can encounter a sperm and be fertilized.

A part of the brain called the hypothalamus controls ovulation and the release of hormones during the menstrual cycle. The hypothalamus sends signals instructing the anterior lobe and pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

It can be helpful to know when ovulation is most likely to occur, as this is when fertilization is most likely to occur.

The female reproductive system sends signals that ovulation is taking place. These include:

  • changes the cervical mucus to look like egg whites
  • an increase in body temperature
  • in some cases pain

A person can also experience:

  • bloating
  • chest tenderness
  • cramps
  • spotting
  • an increased sex drive

Cervical mucus passes through four general phases during the menstrual cycle. It is thick and viscous during less fertile times. As estrogen levels rise, so does increases in volume come to resemble egg whites. This makes the movement of the sperm easier.

To check the stage of the mucus, a person may look at some on a tissue or test its consistency with a finger.

During ovulation, there may also be a slight increase in body temperature. It is driven by the hormone progesterone, which the body secretes when it releases an egg. The temperature can be between 0.5 and 1ºF and remain exalted until the end of the fertile period.

A person can buy a basal thermometer online or at a pharmacy to look at this increase. The readings are most accurate if a person is doing it at the same time every day.

However, many factors can affect temperature readings, such as an illness, alcohol consumption, and a change in contraception. For this reason, temperature monitoring alone is not a reliable way to prevent or increase the likelihood of fertilization.

Some people may have pain in their lower abdomen during ovulation. This is called mittelschmerz pain. It can take time a few minutes up to a few hours.

Ovulation pain can be a sharp, sudden pain or a dull ache. It can occur on either side of the abdomen, depending on which ovary an egg releases. There may also be slight vaginal bleeding or spots.

However, pain in the area can result from another health problem, such as endometriosis or a sexually transmitted infection. A health professional can help determine the underlying cause.

Ovulation usually occurs about 10-16 days before menstruation begins. Some people can determine their peak fertility periods by tracking their cycles. This is called the ovulation calendar method to predict fertility.

The calendar method has several steps:

  • Step 1: Follow the menstrual cycle for 8-12 months. One cycle is from the first day of one menstrual period to the first day of the next menstrual period. The average cycle is 28 daysbut it can be as short as 24 days or as long as 38 days.
  • Step 2: Subtract 18 from the number of days in the shortest menstrual cycle.
  • Step 3: Subtract 11 from the number of days in the longest menstrual cycle.
  • Step 4: Use a calendar and mark the beginning of the next period. Count in advance according to the number of days calculated in step 2. This is when peak fertility begins. Peak fertility ends at the number of days calculated in step 3.

If the result of the calculation in step 2 was 8 days, and the result in step 3 was 19 days, the fertility window starts 8 days after the start of the next period and ends after 19 days.

Various websites and applications can help with this tracking. These following programs are free and have high user ratings:

Keeping up with the menstrual cycle can also help people notice any irregularities.

A person may prefer to detect their fertility by using an ovulation predictor set from a pharmacy. It can detect the increase in luteinizing hormone in urine that occurs just before ovulation.

Ovulation usually stops after menopause, which begins approximately 51 years old, on average. Menstruation may become more irregular in the years before menopause. This period is called perimenopause.

Ovulation and fertility are closely linked, but they differ.

Ovulation is when an egg is exempt of an ovary. Pregnancy begins when an egg is fertilized by a sperm. The fertilized egg then attaches to the lining of the uterus.

Fertility describes the likelihood of becoming pregnant. It can be helpful to know when in the menstrual cycle pregnancy is more likely. Depending on a person’s desires, they may decide to have or avoid sex that could lead to pregnancy during this time.

Pregnancy can occur anywhere from 5 days before ovulation to 1 day thereafter. This is because sperm can live in the vagina for up to 5 days and an egg can live about 24 hours after it is released.

The menstrual cycle lasts on average from 28 days and can be divided into three phases:

  1. The periovulatory, or follicular, phase: A layer of cells around the egg begins to expand and becomes more like mucus. The lining of the uterus begins to thicken.
  2. The ovulatory phase: The ovum and its network of cells leave the ovary through a hole formed by enzymes and move to the fallopian tube. It is also the period of fertility and usually lasts 24-48 hours.
  3. The postovulatory or luteal phase: The body secretes luteinizing hormone. A fertilized egg implants in the uterus, while an unfertilized egg slowly stops producing hormones and dissolves within 24 hours.

If there is no pregnancy, the uterine lining begins to break down and get ready to leave the body during menstruation.

Home tests usually measure hormone levels in urine, while a doctor can use both urine and blood tests.

  • Luteinizing hormone. Levels rise rapidly approx. 36 hours before ovulation, and home urine tests can detect this surge.
  • Estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G). E3G levels rise when estrogen breaks down. It happens at about the same time as ovulation. A commercial urine test can measure both luteinizing hormone and E3G levels.
  • Progesterone. There are higher levels of progesterone at the time of ovulation as the uterus prepares for a fertilized egg. Having a progesterone blood test done at a clinic can confirm ovulation. There is also a commercial test for urinary progesterone, which may appear as “pregnanediol-3-glucuronide” on labeling.

When using a home test, it is important to follow the instructions carefully to get accurate results.

There are many things to think about after pregnancy loss, which can have emotional and physical consequences.

To prevent infection, a person should avoid sexual intercourse until they no longer have physical symptoms.

Menstruation may resume 1-2 months after pregnancy loss, but cycles may be irregular for several more months. To make it easier to calculate dates, some people choose to wait until they have at least one period before trying to conceive again.

If a person has experienced any of the following, it may be a good idea to talk to a doctor before trying to conceive again:

It is possible to get pregnant again shortly after a miscarriage.

Anything that interferes with ovulation can lead to infertility or difficulty conceiving. Some of the most common causes are listed below.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Also known as PCOS, it causes the development of enlarged ovaries, which often have small, fluid-filled cysts. This can lead to a hormone imbalance that can disrupt ovulation.

Other symptoms may include insulin resistance, obesity, irregular hair growth and acne.

This condition is a major cause of infertility in women, affecting 6–12% of those of reproductive age.

Hypothalamic dysfunction

This is due to a disruption in the production of the FSH and luteinizing hormone, which stimulates ovulation. This can affect the menstrual cycle.

Irregular menstrual cycles and amenorrhea, which means they do not menstruate at all, are common in people with hypothalamic dysfunction.

Causes can include:

  • excessive physical or emotional stress
  • excessive exercise
  • very high or low body weight and significant weight gain or loss
  • tumors on the hypothalamus

Premature ovarian insufficiency

This term describes egg production that stops early due to a drop in estrogen levels.

It can be the result of an autoimmune disease, genetic abnormalities or environmental toxins, and it usually happens before the age of 40.

Excess prolactin

If a person uses certain medications or has an abnormality in their pituitary gland, which produces hormones, the body can produce excessive amounts of prolactin.

This in turn can cause reduced estrogen production.

Excess prolactin, also called hyperprolactinemia, is a less common cause of ovulatory dysfunction.

Fertility drugs can cause ovulation. Doctors may prescribe the following if a person has stopped ovulating:

  • Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid): This oral medication increases pituitary secretion of FSH and luteinizing hormone, which stimulates the ovarian follicles.
  • Letrozole (Femara): It works by temporarily lowering the level of the hormone progesterone to stimulate egg production.
  • Human menopausal gonadotropins (Repronex, Menopur, Pergonal) and FSH (Gonal-F, Follistim): This injectable medication stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (Prophecy, Pregnyl): It helps mature eggs and causes their release.
  • Metformin (Glucophage): It can treat insulin resistance and increase the chances of ovulation in people with polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel) and Cabergoline (Dostinex): It can treat hyperprolactinemia.

Taking fertility drugs can increase the likelihood of multiple births, such as twins or triplets.

The above medications can also cause side effects, including:

  • stomach pain
  • hot embers
  • heavy menstrual flow
  • chest tenderness
  • vaginal dryness
  • increased urination
  • spotting
  • insomnia
  • mood swings

If any of these become of concern or concern, a physician may recommend switching to a different approach.

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