By Avni Sharma
Avni is a second year student of Bachelors with Honours in Accounting from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Apart from being an avid reader, she enjoys music and poetry and is always on the lookout for opportunities to bring about a change in society.
Reviewed by Dr Chandra K. Hathi, M.S. Gynaecology and OBS.
Dr. Chandra is a practicing gynaecologist at Chandra Bhushan Hospital, Jodhpur, with an experience of over 35 years. She currently resides in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
The third phase in the menstrual cycle, ovulation is often overlooked when it comes to tracking one’s menstrual health. Ovulation disorders are among the most common causes of infertility in menstruators. However, what is ovulation exactly? What are the most common symptoms? Put on your learning hat and sit down for a brief biology lesson.
What is Ovulation?
Ovulation is a process in which a mature egg is released from the ovary.
Rising oestrogen levels during the follicular phase trigger the pituitary gland to release Luteinizing hormone (LH). This is what starts the process of ovulation.
When do you ovulate?
In an average cycle, ovulation typically occurs around 14 days before the start of the next menstrual period. But in most menstruators, ovulation usually occurs four days before or after the midpoint of the menstrual cycle.
How long does Ovulation last?
The egg is able to be fertilized for about 12 to 24 hours after it is released. Beyond this time frame, it is no longer possible to be able to get pregnant during that menstrual cycle because the egg is no longer in the fallopian tubes (but if you’re not trying to get pregnant, don’t rely on this – contraception is your best option!).
The most critical sign that points to an ovulatory cycle is having a regular menstrual cycle that lasts from 21 to 35 days, and a period that lasts seven days or less. The symptoms may also include:
- Changes in Vaginal Discharge: It will be thin, clear, and stretchy, resembling egg whites. Although it isn’t common, it’s possible for your body to release brown discharge or a little blood, also known as spotting during ovulation. This happens when the follicle surrounding the egg grows bigger and finally ruptures, which causes the bleeding.
- Changes in the position of Cervix: When your body is ovulating, you can feel some physical changes as well. During this phase, the cervix may feel open, soft, and higher than usual.
- Changes in Basal Body Temperature: Basal Body Temperature (BBT) is the body’s rest temperature. In the first half of your cycle, your body temperature stays constant but as the ovulation period approaches, you’ll experience a decrease and later on, a slight increase in BBT after ovulation.
Along with the described symptoms, you may also notice lower abdominal pain, sore breasts, abdominal bloating, and increased libido.
Ovulation disorders are among the most common causes of infertility in menstruators. Caused by problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones, ovulation disorders are defined as disturbances in the production of an egg (also known as an oocyte or ovum) during the menstrual cycle.
The disorders often occur as a result of conditions such as:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) ;
- Premature ovarian insufficiency;
- Too much prolactin, a hormone that, among many other functions, promotes breast milk production.
When you regularly look out for symptoms, you can tell when things are out of the ordinary and get yourself checked. We recommend that you see a doctor regularly if you’re dealing with any of the ovulation disorders mentioned above.