OVULATION: WHAT EVERY WOMAN MUST KNOW

Understanding your menstrual cycle and ovulation calender may be the gateway to conception. It may be difficult for some women to say emphatically whether they are ovulating or not; while in some, they are not ovulating at all probably because of one or two disorders.
Ovulation is the release of an egg during menstruation in females. After the release, the egg travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be met by a sperm that fertilizes it.

If fertilization does not occur the egg dissolves after 24 hours. At this time your hormone levels will decrease and your uterine lining will begin to shed about 12-16 days from ovulation. This is menstruation (menstrual period) and brings us back to day 1 of your cycle. Ovulation and hormonal release during the menstrual cycle are controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It sends signals instructing the anterior lobe and pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Ovulation is the most fertile period for a woman to take in. Being able to recognize the signs of ovulation, you’ll be able to time sex with your partner accordingly to boost the odds of getting pregnant. But even if you’re not trying to conceive right at this moment, having a better understanding of ovulation signs can give you a clearer picture of your menstrual cycle and help you spot any abnormal ovulation symptoms down the line.

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Ovulation processes

The ovulation process is defined by a period of elevated hormones during the menstrual cycle. It can be divided into 3 phases:

1. The periovulatory or follicular phase: A layer of cells around the ovum begins to mucify, or become more like mucus, and expand. The uterus lining begins to thicken.

2. The ovulatory phase: Enzymes are secreted and form a hole, or stigma. The ovum and its network of cells use the stigma to move into the fallopian tube. This is the period of fertility and usually lasts from 24 to 48 hours.

3. The postovulatory or luteal phase: LH is secreted. A fertilized egg will be implanted into the womb, while an unfertilized egg slowly stops producing hormones and dissolves within 24 hours.

Normally, a woman’s menses lasts on average between 28 and 32 days.

The beginning of each cycle is considered to be the first day of the menses. Release of the egg generally occurs 12 to 16 days before the next period is due.

How to spot out ovulation

Certain indications shows that a woman is ovulating. In most  women, during ovulation, the cervical mucus increases in volume and becomes thicker due to increased estrogen levels. The cervical mucus is sometimes likened to egg whites at a woman’s most fertile point.

There may also be a slight increase in body temperature. This is driven by the hormone progesterone, which is secreted when an egg is released. Women are generally most fertile for 2 to 3 days before the temperature reaches its maximum.

It is important to note that in some women, they may feel a mild ache in the lower abdomen.

Disorders

Issues with the ovulation process can lead to infertility or difficulty conceiving. The most commont ovulation disorders are:

Polycystic ovarian syndrome

A woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has enlarged ovaries, often with small, fluid-filled cysts on them. It can lead to a hormone imbalance that can disrupt ovulation.

Other symptoms can include insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth, and acne.

PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women.

Hypothalamic dysfunction

This happens when the production of the FSH and LH hormones is disrupted. These are the hormones that stimulate ovulation. This can affect the menstrual cycle.

Irregular menstrual cycles and amenorrhea, which means not menstruating at all, are common.

Causes of hypothalamic dysfunction include excessive physical or emotional stress, extremely high or low body weight, or substantial weight gains or losses.

Excessive exercise, low body weight, and tumors of the hypothalamus can also lead to hypothalamic dysfunction.

Premature ovarian insufficiency

This is when egg production stops prematurely, due to a drop in estrogen levels.

It can be due to an autoimmune disease, genetic abnormalities, or environmental toxins.

It typically affects women before the age of 40 years.

Hyperprolactinemia, or excess prolactin

In certain situations, such as the use of medication or an abnormality in the pituitary gland, which produces hormones, women can produce excessive amounts of prolactin.

This, in turn, can cause a reduction in estrogen production.

Excess prolactin is a less common cause of ovulatory dysfunction.

How to treat ovulation disorders

No ovulation at all can cause worry though. In this case, visit a fertility doctor who may recommend some medications. These medications can help regulate the ovulation process.

One of the most common ways for treating an ovulation is the use of clomid. The treatments include:

  • Clomiphene citrate (Clomid): This oral medication increases pituitary secretion of FSH and LH, stimulating ovarian follicles.
  • Letrozole (Femara): This works by temporarily lowering a woman’s level of the hormone progesterone to stimulate ovum production.
  • Human menopausal gonadotropin or hMG (Repronex, Menopur, Pergonal) and FSH (Gonal-F, Follistim): These injectable medications are known as gonadotropins and stimulate the ovary to produce several eggs for ovulation.
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG (Profasi, Pregnyl): This matures eggs and subsequently triggers their release during ovulation.
  • Metformin (Glucophage): This medication is typically used in women with PCOS to treat insulin resistance and increase the chances of ovulation.

 

 

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