Understand your menstrual cycle

Menstrual cycle?

 

The first step to getting pregnant is to understand your menstrual cycle. This is the most important factor a woman can understand to help her body. Also understanding your Menstrual cycle or ovulation cycle puts you in the driver’s seat from where you can control whether to get pregnant or not.

Ovulation is the time when a matured egg is released from any one of the ovary into the fallopian tube, ready to be fertilized. The uterus lining thickens to make home for the fertilized egg. At this stage if there is no conception the uterine lining sheds along with the blood. The time at which the uterine lining and unfertilized eggs are shed is called menstruation. Ovulation occurs monthly at regular intervals which may vary amongst women considering their age, health and family medical history.

Keeping a track of your ovulation enables you to take essential decisions related to pregnancy. On an average the ovulation cycle is between 28- 32 days for most women, which is calculated from the first day of the menstrual period until the next menstrual period. However, some women could have much shorter or longer Menstrual cycle.

To calculate ovulation you should start calculating from the first day of the last menstrual period or by calculating 12-16 days from the next expected period. Ovulation takes place for many women between Day 11 – Day 21 of the cycle, as from the first day of the LMP. Hence, this stage is referred to as the most fertile time of the cycle as sexual intercourse during this time improves the chances of pregnancy for you.

 

The Two Phases of ovulation in Menstrual cycle -

Ovulation in menstrual cycle has two phases follicular phase and luteal phase.

The follicular phase, the first part of the ovulation, begins with the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) and lasts until the ovulation. The duration of the follicular phase differs for many women and can last from 7 days to 40 days. The day from the beginning of the ovulation till the day when the next menstrual period is begins marks the second phase of the ovulation called luteal phase. This phase has a more defined timeline, mostly 12-16 days from the ovulation. Hence, this concludes that the occurrence of the ovulation decides how long you menstrual cycle goes.

Details of the ovulation period in Menstrual cycle –

The estrogen levels are low at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. The hypothalamus sends out messages to the pituitary gland to release the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The FSH is responsible for stimulating a few of the follicles to form into mature eggs out of which one develops into the dominant follicle that releases a mature egg. The follicle then releases more of estrogen. These high levels of estrogen communicate to the hypothalamus that the and pituitary gland that the FRS (Female reproductive system) homes a mature egg.

After this a luteinizing hormone (LH) is sent out, also called as the LH surge that causes the egg to burst out of the ovary walls within 24-36 hours. The egg then begins to move to the fallopian tube for fertilization. The follicle that released the egg now produced progesterone that aids the thickening of the uterine lining for the implantation. This follicle now also called as the corpus luteum produces progesterone for the next 12-16 days, this is the luteal phase of your cycle. If conception occurs i.e. if the egg is fertilized the corpus luteum will continue the production of progesterone for the duration of the pregnancy and you can notice the symptoms of pregnancy mostly after a week of fertilization.

Tracking your ovulation in Menstrual cycle

The external stress levels you face greatly influence your ovulation cycle. Hence to find out your fertility window, you need to track physical changes that indicate ovulation.

You can observe the changes in the cervical mucus and judge when the ovulation is ready to occur. Before and during ovulation the cervical mucus increases and turns from sticky to slippery. The purpose of the cervical mucus is to help the sperm stay longer in the woman’s body. The fertile cervical mucus looks like the white of raw eggs. To track the changes in the cervical mucus you can use a calendar designed to identify your fertility window.

Tracking the physical signs of ovulation through the basal temperature is the most reliable thing to do. The temperature of body rises between 0.5 to 1.5 degrees during ovulation. The rise in the temperature is caused due to the release of the hormone progesterone. Hence, the rise in the basal temperature marks that the ovulation has taken place. You cannot use the basal temperature of the current month as a reference to predict the ovulation as the ovulation has already taken place when you see the body temperature rise. You need to track the basal temperature for several months in order to predict when the next ovulation will occur. The most fertile time for you would be two days before the temperature rise.

Interesting facts related to Ovulation in Menstrual cycle

  • An egg can survive for about 12-24 hours after released from the ovary
  • Even though you have two fallopian tubes only one egg is released each time of ovulation
  • External factors like stress, illness or change in routine can affect ovulation
  • Some women also experience light blood spotting during ovulation
  • Every woman is born with the required amount of immature eggs she would require for a lifetime
  • You can experience a menstrual period without the ovulation taking place
  • Similarly ovulation can occur even if menstrual period has not occurred
  • Women can feel slight pain near the ovaries during ovulation.

Read our pregnancy articles to know more about menstrual cycle and ovulation cycle