Quirks of ovulation

Ovulation oddities

The female body really is a strange and interesting thing. Did you know that when you ovulate, you become smarter?

This is a claim made by researchers from the University of Salzburg, Austria, who say that some parts of women’s brains increase in size when women are at their most fertile, although the effect only lasts as long as ovulation lasts.

The Star Online

India
Women’ s World by DR NOR ASHIKIN MOKHTAR

April 17, 2011

AS we women go about our daily routine, we are hardly aware of the complex ovulation process that is going on inside our bodies.

Unknown to us, our reproductive system is busily producing hormones, discharging cervical mucous, and preparing the body for the release of a mature egg from the ovaries every month.

Ovulation is quite a momentous event for a woman’s body, as it marks her readiness to be a mother. Of course, more often than not, the eggs are not fertilised and a woman goes on to have her monthly menstruation as usual.

What happens during ovulation

Ovulation is the moment when a mature egg is released from the follicle of one of your ovaries, caused by a surge in the luteinising hormone. This occurrence marks the most fertile point of your menstrual cycle, as the egg is ready to be fertilised by the male sperm.

Unfortunately, the egg does not survive for long, only 24 hours at the most. If intercourse has taken place several days before or during this stage, then conception is quite likely to occur.

However, the process is not just as simple as releasing the egg into the fallopian tubes, and waiting for something to happen. Even after the release of the egg, there are many things happening during the luteal phase.

The luteal phase begins the day after ovulation and ends the day before your next period (the last day of your current menstrual cycle). This phase may last between 10 and 16 days, and varies for individual women.

When this phase begins, your body temperature will increase slightly, to provide a fertile environment for the egg. You will also produce more cervical mucous, and it will be clear, slippery, and have, according to some descriptions, the consistency of raw egg white.

When am I ovulating?

Ovulation usually takes place about 14 days after your menstrual cycle begins, although this is not a strict rule for every woman. The time of ovulation varies for different women, and may sometimes be irregular if you have been sick, are under stress, or eating a poor diet.

If you want to be really accurate, you can calculate your ovulation phase by subtracting the length of your luteal phase from the length of your menstrual cycle. However, it is not easy to gauge when your luteal phase begins, unless you are hyper-sensitive towards your body’s changes.

Some women track their cervical mucous changes by observing the changes in amount and texture of mucous produced throughout their cycle. If you feel your discharge frequently with your fingers or with a tissue paper, you will soon become familiar with the texture.

Another way to know when your luteal phase begins is by taking your basal body temperature. You need a special basal thermometer (find it in your local pharmacy), not the normal thermometer, for this.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.