Women who want to have a baby and want to conceive when they are ready and not wait on luck often turn to ovulation calendars and learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of ovulations so that they can know when their body is releasing an egg and is ready for fertilization. Ovulation is one of the most important phases of the menstrual cycle in terms of conceiving a child. In order to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of ovulation it is important to understand what happens during the ovulation phase and how they work together to prepare for conception.
The Complete Ovulation Cycle
Ovulation is only one phase in a series of events that occur in the reproductive system of a woman. In essence, the cycle begins at birth. The female body is born with all of the eggs that will ever be used during the lifespan. Each egg is found inside the ovaries nestled inside a natural covering called the follicle. These follicles keep the eggs until the body reaches puberty and menstruation begins. At this point, the eggs will begin to mature and release on a monthly basis.
There are several hormones in the body that are responsible for the cycle of menstruating. The first, follicle stimulating hormone releasing factor, is responsible for alerting the pituitary gland that it is time to release FSH or follicle stimulating hormone. This starts the follicle on its way to maturity.
As the follicle begins to mature, estrogen is released. As the egg in the follicle continues to mature, the amount of estrogen released increases. This increase in estrogen alters the lining of the uterus, making it thicker and causing the mucous in the cervix to become cloudy and thicker as well.
When the estrogen level peaks, the body releases another hormone that triggers the release of a large amount of luteinizing hormone. This sudden release of LH sets of a chain reaction that causes the largest and hopefully healthiest follicle to rupture and release the egg inside. This egg then begins its journey through the fallopian tubes.This is in essence the process of ovulation.
This process is detailed and probably more information than most women want to know. However, there are parts of this process that have specific signs and symptoms that will help identify the onset of the ovulation phase and even the actual release of the egg.
Shortly before the ovulation phase, the body increases the blood supply to the ovaries and the ligaments tighten. This contraction of the ligaments pulls the ovaries closer to the opening of the fallopian tubes where the egg will begin its journey. It is possible that cramping or slight pains may be felt during this tightening.
Cramping and other pains may also be the result of the maturing egg stretching the ovaries. When the follicle erupts and the egg is released there may also be a sharp pain that lasts for a few minutes or even up to 24 hours. Some women also have a slightly bloody discharge when the follicle releases the egg.
In addition to feeling slight cramps during the contracting of the ligaments, there will also be an increase in mucous discharge. This discharge will be slightly thick and clear. Fertile mucous, as it is called, is produced in order to help sperm make its way to the egg, if copulation occurs after ovulation. This mucous is another sign that ovulation is occurring and many woman watch for this sign in order to increase their odds of becoming pregnant.
During these events as the estrogen increases in the body, the basal body temperature increases slightly and remains slightly increased until just before the next menstrual period starts. This is another means by which ovulation can be determined.
Lastly during ovulation, the egg will travel through the fallopian tubes and possibly become fertilized and continue to travel until it reaches the uterus and implants. Implantation may also cause some cramping and may last up to 48 hours. This is important to know so that this cramping is not mistaken for ovulation.
Overview of Symptoms
Having an understanding of the process of ovulation helps with discerning what the body is doing and when ovulation is occurring or about to occur. Some of the symptoms that have been pointed out include:
- Elevated basal temperature that lasts from ovulation up until the next period.
- Slight cramping on one side of the lower abdomen. This is the egg maturing and then being released.
- Possibly a slightly bloody discharge from the follicle rupturing.
- Increase in mucous and the consistency of the mucous. It will be clear, thick and stretchy.
These symptoms can be used to determine ovulation and assist in conception. Recognizing these symptoms and using them in conjunction with an ovulation calendar can dramatically improve the chances of impregnation.