Rebecca has been a freelancer online for 10+ years. She enjoys writing, editing and being a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls.
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle To Pinpoint Ovulation
What Is A Menstrual Cycle?
According to Dictiaonry.com, a woman's menstrual cycle is the recurring cycle of physiological changes in the uterus, ovaries, and other sexual organs that occur from the beginning of one menstrual period through the beginning of the next.
What is considered a normal menstrual cycle?
A normal menstrual cycle lasts between 25-35 days. On average many women report a 28-day menstrual cycle. An occasional variation in your menstrual cycle is usually no cause for alarm. As long as your cycle is regular, predictable, and a minimum of 23 days it is considered normal.
Cycle Day 1
Your cycle begins on the first day of you menstrual bleed, otherwise known as a period. This is day one of your cycle. Keeping track of your cycle length and cycle day will allow you to pinpoint what phase of your menstrual cycle your in to either plan or avoid a pregnancy.
The Three Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle.
Well Timed Hormonal Shifts Are Responsible for a Successful Menstrual Cycle
The Follicular Phase
The follicular phase begins on cycle day 1. Cycle day 1 is the first day of menstrual bleeding, more commonly referred to as your period.
On cycle day one your body starts gearing up to create a human being. Your body releases a hormone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), into your bloodstream signaling your brain, pituitary gland, and ovaries to get to work. Once your ovaries receive this message, they dig into their reserves and choose a few ova (eggs) to focus on.
From cycle day 1 to cycle day 12 (on average). your ovaries flood the chosen ovum with FSH in an effort to enlarge them to a mature enough size for successful ovulation. Your ovaries then wait around for their next cue in your menstrual cycle; a spike in Luteinizing Hormone (LH), the hormone responsible for ovulation.
Somewhere around cycle day 12 your LH peaks and causes, your body to release the egg it has been working so hard to create since cycle day 1. The process referred to as ovulation.
What is Mittelschmerz?
Some woman claim to be able to feel the egg release or 'pop' out of the ovary. This is known as Mittelschmerz, translated to 'mid cycle' pain.
How Long Is Ovulation?
A woman's ovulation or fertile period is relatively short. Once an LH surge happens, in most cases, an egg is released within 24-48 hours and is viable for approximately 24 hours. During this 24 hour period, the egg will travel down the fallopian tubes and a corpus luteum will be formed.
What is a Corpus Luteum?
According to Dictionary.com, the corpus luteum is a hormone-secreting structure that develops in an ovary after an ovum has been discharged but degenerates after a few days unless pregnancy has begun.
The minute your body releases the ovum for fertilization you enter the third and final phase of your menstrual cycle.
The Luteal Phase
During the luteal phase, your body starts sending signals, via hormones (progesterone) created by the corpus luteum to the uterus. The uterus receives these hormonal signals and continues to make your uterine lining nice and cushy just in case your ovum was fertilized.
However, if the ovum was not fertilized you will have your period roughly 12-14 days after ovulation has taken place. On the other hand, if you fall pregnant you will most likely go without a period for the duration of your pregnancy.
Your Complete Menstrual Cycle from Ovulation To Menstruation or Pregnancy
Whether you’re looking to achieve pregnancy or avoid pregnancy there are many tools available to help you narrow down your most fertile time window.
Basal Body Temperature for Achieving or Avoiding Pregnancy
Some websites or applications allow you to record your basal body temperature (BBT), among other fertility indicators to look for patterns and natural variations in your cycle.
*It's important to understand the basics of basal body temping before using it as a foolproof tool to aid or avoid pregnancy. For more on tracking and charting your BBT see: How To Chart Your BBT.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Ovulation predictor kits or OPK’s measure the rise and surge of the luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. Available in both digital and non-digital ovulation predictor kits can be a valuable tool in helping you pinpoint ovulation. Using an OPK for a few months may be enough time to understand your average cycle length and trends.
There are also a wide variety of fertility monitors that have the capability to record your hormone fluctuations and compare your unique hormone levels over a period of days and/or months depending on the duration of use.
*Provided a woman has no underlying medical conditions or is not on any medication that may interfere with LH production. OPK’s have a 99% success rate at predicting ovulation. Make sure to read the provided instructions as all brands will vary.
It’s important to note that many factors can alter a woman’s menstrual cycle such as:
- hormonal imbalances
- increase or loss in body weight
*If you have been unable to narrow down your fertile window from clues provided by your body - it may be time to see your doctor.
19 Interesting Facts About Ovulation
- 19 Facts About Ovulation That May Surprise You
Did you know that women's ears become more symmetrical when they ovulate? It's true!..
© 2014 Rebecca Fiskaali