The Menstrual Cycle Explained - Your Body Deserves a Standing Ovulation
Hello Summer, hello ovulation! Our fertile days follow immediately after the proliferation phase, our inner spring. Now if you're like "huh, what do seasons have to do with our cycle?" make sure to check out part one of this blog series first.
To understand what's special about the summer of our cycle, let's take a look at the different processes in your body. Depending on the length of your cycle, the timing of ovulation varies, but it usually occurs ten to sixteen days before your period, triggered by a strong increase in the luteinizing hormone. During this process, the dominant mature follicle ruptures and the egg is flushed out of the follicle to be absorbed by the fallopian tube.
During the ovulation phase women are highly fertile. So this moment is super important for a possible pregnancy - or to avoid it at all costs. The egg can only be fertilized for a period of 24 hours, but sperm can survive up to 5 days in the reproductive organs. In other words: you got a 6 days fertility window!
Ever felt a dull, one-sided pain in the lower abdomen or a nasty sharp pain? Is it my appendix? A cyst? An explosion? Nope, it's just my ovulation! Better said: the so-called middle pain.
It is thought to be caused by the tension of the growing follicle on the ovary. In addition, there is the cervical mucus aka discharge. Around ovulation, the cervical mucus is thin, transparent and spinnable (reminiscent of raw egg white). So don't be surprised if it's a bit wetter down there - this is completely natural and can indicate that you are in your fertile days.
And during sex, this 100% natural, self-produced "lubricant" can be just awesome!
Did you know that the position, hardness and opening of the cervix can give you a hint of where you are in your cycle? Around ovulation, the cervix is softer and more open than usual - you can actually feel this with clean fingers. However, it's actually more difficult to feel it at this time compared to other phases of the cycle. This is because it's now pretty high up in the vagina, which is related to the rising estrogen level before ovulation. And what are the thin cervical mucus and the soft, open cervix good for? You probably guessed it: to make the way to the egg as smooth and easy as possible for the sperm.
Another crucial change is the immediate rise in body temperature after ovulation by 0.4 - 0.6 degrees Celsius. The body temperature then remains until the onset of the period, i.e. until the start of the new cycle, before it drops again.*
Our favorite hormone, estrogen, is at its absolute peak before ovulation, but unfortunately it drops sharply exactly at the time of ovulation. Anyone who's sensitive to hormone changes may experience mood swings and even depressive moods around ovulation.
So, in combination with the middle pain, ovulation for some can also be a good time to hit the reset button and dive into your well-deserved summer holidays. A lot of theory, we know... But after all, this is the main event in your cycle! And maybe with this knowledge you will be able to notice some of these changes yourself and understand what they mean. And that in turn can help your feel more secure in yourself and confident.
To make things easier, we've summarized all main takeaways for you:
- Ovulation takes place about 10-16 days before the onset of your period.
- The egg can be fertilized for about 24 hours, but sperm can survive in the reproductive organs for up to 5 days. There are a maximum of 6 fertile days per cycle.
- Ovulation is noticeable by a number of physical symptoms: Thin cervical mucus, a soft, open, and deep cervix, and a rise in temperature immediately following ovulation
- Observation of these symptoms over the cycle provides conclusions about the timing of ovulation and the phases of the cycle
- Knowledge of physical changes and cycle phases is valuable for all menstruators
- The drop in estrogen levels at ovulation can have a negative effect on your mood
* The observation and evaluation of physical symptoms (cervical mucus, cervix, temperature) provides the basis for non-hormonal contraception with the sympothermal method. Very important: This method requires intensive knowledge and requires an error-free and consistent application. It is therefore not suitable for everyone and if you are considering this method, you should definitely consult your gynecologist beforehand.
** And what if you take the pill? The contraceptive pill contains sex hormones that suppress the maturation of eggs and thus inhibit ovulation. In addition, the structure of the uterine lining is affected in such a way that implantation of an egg is not possible. In addition, the mucus in the cervix is changed which causes the sperm to no longer ascend into the uterine cavity. An exception is the mini-pill: it does not inhibit ovulation, but prevents pregnancy due to the change in the mucus in the cervix and the suppression of the build-up of the uterine lining.