The Cycle Phases: Ovulation
Whether you're trying to conceive or not, did you know ovulation is the most important phase in your cycle? Proper ovulation sets you up for one of two things: pregnancy or a healthy, pain-free period. That's right...pain-FREE; just as it should be!
What is going on in the body?
Cycles are counted from the first day of menses, which is day 1, until the last day before the next period begins. It is normal to have some variation in the length of your monthly cycle, which means that the timing of ovulation can vary as well. Ideally, ovulation should occur between days 12 and 17 for the healthiest cycle. The best way to keep track of when when you typically ovulate is to keep track of your cycle. There are also two common and healthy signs of ovulation to watch for: basal body temperature and a change in your cervical mucus. During ovulation, you might notice a rise in basal body temperature and/or increase of cervical mucus. It should be thin and very stretchy, similar to raw egg whites.
When the dominant follicle (peak the follicular phase blog for more info!) is fully mature, it is secreting a high level of estradiol. A tiny bump in progesterone production causes a spike in the hormones LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). This rise in LH is called the LH surge. This is what ovulation predictor kits are trying to detect. The egg usually releases about 24 to 36 hours after the LH surge begins. Right after ovulation occurs, women produce an increased amount of progesterone and the growth of the uterine lining ceases. In essence, the progesterone is turning off the “growth genes” (estradiol) responsible for thickening the lining of the uterus. Progesterone will go on to play a vital role in pregnancy should it occur. If implantation does not occur, progesterone levels will decrease dramatically, which will lead to menstruation and the start of the next cycle.
Why is ovulation important for overall health?
Hormones...such a love-hate relationship. They have so much control over our overall health and because of that, when they are working in harmony, they provide so many benefits. BUT here's where the frustrating part comes in; if they're not working in harmony then we start having symptoms like heavy/painful periods, acne, fatigue, moodiness, insomnia, weight struggles, PMS, irregular periods, no periods, and more. Gah! Dang hormones.
Regular ovulation is a major sign that your hormones are in fact working in harmony every month. Ovulation is the ONLY way to make natural estradiol and progesterone, which are beneficial hormones for so many things! Note that synthetic versions we get through birth control are not the same thing. Here's a list of health benefits from producing natural progesterone and estradiol every month:
prevention of overgrowth of certain types of cells, which can help protect against some cancers including those of the breast or the uterus
prevention of overgrowth of cells of the endometrial lining and prevent endometriosis from forming
decreases risk of fibrocystic disease and ovarian cysts
decreases of eliminates symptoms of PMS
increases ability to handle stress
helps the metabolism by contributing to the use of fat for energy
assists in preventing plaque forming on arterial walls
helps to lower triglycerides
promotes bone health
assists proper function of the thyroid gland
slows down aging
reduces or eliminates migraines
reduces inflammation and joint pain
regulate menstrual cycles
decreases hormonal hot flashes
reduce weight gain
Absence of ovulation (anovulation) can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. If you experience missed periods, long/irregular cycles, no rise in basal body temperature, or no cervical mucus change around ovulation, you may not be ovulating. Before we jump to any underlying conditions, we want to focus on proper nutrition and our bodies other needs in order to try to balance our hormones naturally.
So, how can we support ovulation and keep hormones balanced?
Ovulation is the peak of your cycle. Your hormones are high and leveled giving you that extra boost of energy. Most women during this time tend to be busier and more productive. They may even kick their exercise up a notch to HIIT, more intense cardio, bootcamp, or heavier lifting. This is the perfect time to do so as your body agrees with the added work. However, it's important to remember to fuel and refuel as you use more energy. You want to focus on foods that increase fertility, stabilize energy, and support the busy life. Here are some of our favorites for this phase:
Proteins: red lentil, salmon, lamb
Fruit: coconut, fig, strawberry
Veggies: asparagus, brussel sprouts, eggplant, spinach
Nuts: almonds, pecan
One of our favorite herbs to use during this phase is dandelion. Dandelion is much more than just the world’s most common garden weed; it’s also a wonderful cleansing herb and a bountiful source of herbal nutrition, making it an excellent choice for women who are looking to promote a healthy cycle, conceive, or support a healthy pregnancy. Dandelion encourages bile production in the liver and speeds up the elimination of wastes. For fertility cleansing, dandelion leaf and root contains nutrients that may be lacking in the body, while cleansing toxins like hormone disrupting chemicals that can build up and stress the liver. This is why we recommend all women incorporate it into their diets; especially around expected ovulation. And! If you’re already pregnant, dandelion is a gentle diuretic for pregnancy-related water retention. It can help fight fatigue, system sluggishness, and constipation, all common pregnancy issues. Dandelion is a high source of vitamin A, B, C, D, calcium, potassium and iron, and is healthy and safe for moms-to-be. Due to all its powerful properties, we carry various tea blends and supplements with dandelion.
It has been another info-packed week on the phases of our menstrual cycle. If you're looking for more information, be sure to check out our latest social media posts and don't hesitate to reach out. Jamie is available for one-on-one consults to offer specific recommendations and personalized help. We are located at 4242 Gordon Dr. here in Sioux City, IA. upstairs, above Chiropractic First of Iowa. If you're not in the area, please give us a call at (712) 525-0478 or message us on social media and we can set up a virtual chat or phone call.
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