You may know other women that track their periods, but maybe yours is a surprise, even if it comes at the same time every month. If so, you might be doing yourself a disservice. As technology makes tracking cycles easier than it ever has been before, doctors and other health professionals are increasingly recommending using calendars to predict ovulation cycles, even in women who aren’t trying to get pregnant. Why is it important to know your ovulation cycle?
1. TRACKING CYCLES AND PREGNANCY
A missed period is often the first pregnancy symptom that a woman experiences. If you’re asking why is it important to know your ovulation cycle, that in itself is a big enough reason for sexually active women to track it. All birth control methods have a chance of failure, and the sooner you are aware of an unplanned pregnancy, the better.
If you are trying to conceive, knowing your ovulation cycle will let you know when you’re most fertile. Most women can only get pregnant for a few days each month, so if you know when you ovulate and what days pregnancy can occur, you can increase your chances of conception significantly.
2. TRACKING CYCLES FOR GENERAL HEALTH
If you are not sexually active, you might be wondering if it is, or why is it important to know your menstrual cycle. Understanding your monthly cycle has other health benefits. A change in a woman’s menstrual cycle is often the first noticeable symptom of reproductive health issues.
A new irregularity in menstrual cycles can also be a strong indication of other health conditions that aren’t related to the reproductive system, such as thyroid issues, irritable bowel syndrome, liver function problems, diabetes, and many other diseases.
That’s not to say that a change in a menstrual cycle is necessarily a cause for concern. It’s very common for women to experience menstrual changes or skip periods after beginning a new fitness routine, losing or gaining a significant amount of weight, or even going through stressful life events.
A single early, late, or missed period in itself isn’t anything to be alarmed about. However, it could be the missing link to a diagnosis if you are experiencing other symptoms. Persistent menstrual irregularity, irregularity that occurs with other symptoms, or irregularity that occurs when you are trying to get pregnant definitely warrants a visit with the ob/gyn.
Even if your cycles are regular, tracking them can provide an explanation for certain complaints you may have at regular monthly intervals. During the follicular phase of the ovulation cycle, estradiol levels rise. Many women feel happier or more energetic during this half of the cycle, and experience a significant libido increase around the time of ovulation due to high levels of estrogen and testosterone. Likewise, in the second half of the cycle, many women report feeling moodier, hungrier, and more tired as progesterone levels rise.
What is my ovulation cycle?
A woman’s fertility is determined by her ovulation cycle. The ovulation cycle can also be tied to a woman’s mood, libido, and general health. Unfortunately, many women don’t understand their cycle and the relevance it plays in their day to day lives. Whether you are trying to get pregnant, avoid pregnancy, manage a health condition, or simply become in tune with your body, “what is my ovulation cycle?” is a good question to know the answer to.
1. WHAT IS AN OVULATION CYCLE?
For most of the month, an egg cell is maturing inside one of your ovaries. Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases the mature egg and pushes it down the fallopian tube to make it available for fertilization. If the egg is fertilized by a sperm and implants into the uterine wall, pregnancy occurs. If it isn’t, the egg deteriorates and is reabsorbed by the uterus. The uterus sheds its lining and the unfertilized egg during the menstrual period.
2. HOW LONG IS THE OVULATION CYCLE?
Most commonly, the ovulation cycle lasts 28-32 days, but depending on your body can be shorter, longer, or irregular. Day 1 of the cycle is considered the first day you get your period, and last day of it is the day before you start your next period.
Most women ovulate sometime between Day 11 and Day 21 of their cycle. Usually, conception can only occur from sexual activity for a couple days during this window. However, ovulation has been known to occur at any time, even in the absence of menstrual periods.
3. WHAT ARE THE TWO PARTS OF THE OVULATION CYCLE?
The beginning of the ovulation cycle is referred to as the follicular phase. It starts on the first day of your period and continues until you ovulate. This is the time that an egg is maturing in your ovary. It can last anywhere from 7 to 40 days, depending on your body.
The second part of the cycle is known as the luteal phase, and lasts from the day you ovulate until your next period begins. It usually lasts 12 to 16 days.
4. WHAT IS MY OVULATION CYCLE, AND HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M OVULATING?
If your periods are regular, no matter the length of your cycle, you can predict when you ovulate. Cervical fluid becomes the consistency of egg whites immediately before ovulation, and remains that way until ovulation has ended. You may decide to track your basal body temperature, which rises immediately after ovulation.
Because the best time to get pregnant is right before ovulation occurs, you may decide to use ovulation kits or fertility monitors. A lot of great products exist on the market. They can be purchased online, and are easy to use, safe, and affordable.
When Ovulation isn’t Clockwork
Ovulation is the process in which hormone changes trigger a woman’s ovaries to release an egg. This happens once per menstrual cycle and usually about two weeks before the start of your next period. For many women, the process of ovulation is one that they can mark on their calendars due to their regularity. For others, however, the process may be disrupted or delayed, causing them to ask: why would my ovulation cycle change? There are many factors that could affect ovulation.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is an ovarian disease that keeps the eggs from maturing. This causes the eggs to turn into cysts instead of being released as healthy eggs. When a woman is suffering from PCOS they have irregular periods and sometimes will not ovulate for months. Diagnosis from a doctor is required and medical help is available.
Stress causes delayed ovulation. When a woman is stressed, the hypothalamus is one part of the brain that is affected. The hypothalamus is in charge of regulating the pituitary gland. When the main job of the pituitary gland is interrupted, the correct hormones are not released to cause a woman to ovulate.
Most people are aware of the health benefits of working out, but what some women don’t understand is that maintaining a healthy weight is imperative to fertility. A healthy body is required to ovulate and when women push themselves too hard they can actually lower the amount of hormones that cause ovary function. This will cause the ovary to stop releasing eggs. For some women simply decreasing their workouts and allowing their bodies to come to a healthy weight is enough to jump-start ovulation.
Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)
Most women have an idea in their head of what menopause will be like. The media portrays it of being full of hot flashes interrupting sleep, sweating, and insomnia. What many women don’t realize though is that POF can occur at any age. This early onset menopause happens in women under 40 years old and keeps ovulation from occuring each month.
Chances are good that if you’re experiencing a change in ovulation that it can be attributed to changes in your life, including stress and health habits. Eating healthy, exercising at a moderate level, and avoiding toxins in your food and beauty products can all help your body get back on track with a regular ovulation schedule. If you’re still having problems though or are concerned about your health, a visit to your doctor is in order. They can diagnose any issues you may have and recommend medicine or other ways to help your body.