Some interesting. subtle changes women go through every month with the menstrual cycle. AS we women go about our daily routine, we are hardly aware of the complex ovulation process that is going on inside our bodies. Unknown to us. our reproductive system is busily producing hormones. discharging cervical mucous, and preparing the body for the release of a mature egg from the ovaries every month.
Ovulation is quite a momentous event for a woman’s body, as it marks her readiness to be a mother. Of course, more often than not. the eggs are not fertilised and a woman goes on to have her monthly menstruation as usual.
What happens during ovulation
Ovulation is the moment when a mature egg is released from the follicle of one of your ovaries. caused by a surge in the luteinising hormone. This occurrence marks the most fertile point of your menstrual cycle, as the egg is ready to be fertilised by the male sperm. Unfortunately, the egg does not survive for long, only 24 hours at the most. If intercourse has taken place several days before or during this stage, then conception is quite likely to occur.
However. the process is not just as simple as releasing the egg into the fallopian tubes. and waiting for something to happen. Even after the release of the egg, there are many things happening during the luteal phase. The 1utea1 phase begins the day after ovulation and ends the day before your next period (the last day of your current menstrual cycle). This phase may last between 10 and 16 days, and varies for indMdual women.
Wilen this phase begins. your body temperature will increase slightly, to provide a fertile environment for the egg. You will also produce more cervical mucous. and it will be clear. slippery, and have, according to some descriptions. the consistency of raw egg white.
When am I ovulating?
Ovulation usually takes place about 14 days after your menstrual cycle begins. although this Is not a strict rule for every woman. The time of ovulation varies for different women. and may sometimes be Irregular If you have been sick. are under stress. or eating a poor diet. It you want to be really accurate. you can calculate your ovulatfon phase by subtracting the length of your luteal phase trom the length of your menstrual cycle. However. It Is not easy to gauge when your luteal phase begins. unless you are hyper-sensitive towards your body’s changes.
Some women track their cervical mucous changes by observing the changes in amount and texture of mucous produced throughout their cycle. If you feel your discharge frequently with your fingers or with a tissue paper. you will soon become familiar with the texture. Another way to know when your luteal phase begins is by taking your basal body temperature. You need a special basal thermometer (find it in your local pharmacy), not the normal thermometer. for this.
When you wake up in the morning. before you get out of bed or brush your teeth. pop the thermometer into your mouth. Once you start monitoring every day throughout your cycle. you will notice when there is a spike in temperature ( although it will be very slight). Why is it important to know when you are ovulating? For women who are trying to conceive. knowing your ovulation phase will help you determine when you are most fertile.
Your peak fertility is the day before. and the day of, your ovulation. It is so short because the egg only survives for about 24 hours. However. your body generally increases its fertility starting from five days before ovulation begins. and lasts for two days after ovulation. because the male sperm can survive in your body for several days.
The female body really is a strange and interesting thing. Did you know that when you ovulate. you become smarter? This is a claim made by researchers from the University of Salzburg, Austria. who say that some parts of women’s brains increase in size when women are at their most fertile. although the effect only lasts as long as ovulation lasts. From MRI scans, the researchers could see that grey matter increased in areas involved in spatial location and facial recognition. meaning that women became better at recognising faces. bodies. and landscapes.
The researchers concluded that these superior skills help women to find a high-quality partner for mating when they are fertile! You may also find that when you are ovulating. you are drawn to buy sexier clothes. Researchers from the University of Minnesota suggest that women’s consumer behaviour changes based on their hormones. as women unconsciously buy sexier clothes and dress to impress when they are most fertile.
However. the researchers believe that the biological reason behind it is not to Impress men. but to outdo their competition – In other words. to look more desirable than other attractive women. However. the ultimate reason Is still to attract a good mate. Whether or not you believe that such behaviour applies to you. It Is Interesting to think about how our bodies go through such subtle changes every month and faithfully prepares us for motherhood.
Knowing your monthly cycle and when you ovulate will help you become more comfortable with your body, and help you to anticipate your fertile periods, if you are planning to conceive.
The Star Newspaper, April 17, 2011
by DR NOR ASHIKIN MOKHTAR