WE all know when our period is coming – after all, it’s hard to ignore. But do you know exactly when you ovulate?
Even more mystery surrounds mid-cycle, when hormonal shifts (a surge in estrogen, then a surge in luteinizing hormone) trigger the release of a mature egg from an ovary into a fallopian tube—ready to be either fertilized when it meets sperm , or to collapse and leave the body during Menstruation.
As we get older, ovulation becomes less frequent and then stops menopause.
Understanding more about ovulation is important for many things, from try to get pregnant to avoid pregnancy.
So get ready to bust some popular myths about ovulation…
MYTH 1: Ovulation occurs on day 14
Most of us will have been taught that ovulation occurs on day 14 of the 28 day menstrual cycle, but this is just a guideline.
A recent study of 124,648 women by app Natural Cycles and University College London found that only 13 percent of them had a 28-day cycle and that ovulation could vary widely.
Generally, this happens about 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period, which can be anywhere from 21 to 40 days after your last period.
Also, ovulation does not alternate between the left and right ovary, as has long been thought.
A study of 80 women found the pattern to be fairly random.
MYTH 2: Without technology, it’s impossible to tell when you’re ovulating
Modern technology certainly makes it easier to know when you’re ovulating. Many women use digital “pee-on-a-stick” style tests.
These detect the luteinizing hormone, which rises between 24 and 36 hours before ovulation. You can also track ovulation with apps like Natural Cycles (£6.99, www.naturalcycles.com) that ask you to enter your basal (resting) body temperature each day, and then use algorithms to analyze the data, since we tend to warm up by about half a degree around ovulation.
However, there are many natural signals that ovulation is imminent.
“The classic sign is ‘spinnability,'” says Sara Matthews, board-certified gynecologist (sarajmatthews.com).
“This is stretchy, clear cervical mucus (discharge) that starts about five days before ovulation.
“I recently had a patient who called it ‘hand sanitizer’ – very topical, but I prefer ‘egg white’!
“You can also have a little bleeding around ovulation.”
You might also feel hornier and more confident — and even taste different.
“It’s true, you just taste more ‘kissable’!” says Sarah.
From an evolutionary perspective, this all makes sense since reproduction relies on us feeling fruity (and having more sex appeal) around ovulation.
MYTH 3: When you have your period, you are definitely ovulating
Generally this is the case, but not always.
Some women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) ovulate only occasionally, even if their periods remain relatively regular.
“Not everyone has the classic symptoms of PCOS, including hair growth, weight gain, irregular periods, and acne, so some don’t know they have it,” says Sara.
If you are concerned about symptoms or your cycle, see your GP.
Stress, weight loss and excessive exercise can also disrupt ovulation.
When our bodies are under pressure, the reproductive cycle begins to shut down, saving energy for more important organs like the liver.
It is good to know that many forms of hormonal contraception, such as the combined pill or the Mirena spiral, also stop ovulation during withdrawal bleeding.
MYTH 4: Ovulation is painless
Fortunately, this is true for most of us.
However, some women experience ovulation side pain, which is thought to be caused by the egg breaking through the ovarian wall and releasing fluid that irritates nearby nerves.
“Not many women experience ovulation pain, I couldn’t put a percentage on it,” says Sara.
“It’s usually a transient pain, either a period-type cramp or a sharp stabbing.”
If your pain is severe, it could be a sign of a condition like endometriosis or a sexually transmitted disease like chlamydia. So be sure to consult your family doctor.
GET CRACKING: A GUIDE TO HEALTHY OVULATION
YOU don’t have to change your ovulation habits yourself during ovulation, but ovulation is influenced by lifestyle factors, so it’s important to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly throughout the month.
“It takes three months for an egg to mature, so look at the big picture,” says Sara.
“Being underweight can affect ovulation, but obesity can produce estrogen in your fat cells, which also upsets the delicate hormone balance of ovulation.
“Alcohol lowers estrogen levels so stick to NHS guidelines (14 units or less per week).”
It is important to know what is normal for you.
“The spacing between your periods is the most important thing,” says Sara.
“If your cycle is just outside 25-35 days, it’s worth getting checked out just to be sure.”
MYTH 5: In order to get pregnant, sex must take place on the day of ovulation
It’s true that eggs only live up to 24 hours after ovulation, but sperm can survive in the body for up to six days – meaning we have a ‘fertile window’ of around a week.
(So yes, if you have a short cycle, you can get pregnant if you have sex on your period. Another myth busted!)
However, the legend that you can influence a baby’s gender by the timing of intercourse is actually true.
“Having sex before ovulation means you’re more likely to have a girl, but if it’s around or just after ovulation, you’re more likely to have a boy,” says Sara.
“Girls’ sperm are more resilient, so they can stay longer, and boys’ sperm are quite delicate, but faster and lighter, so they shoot at the egg faster just before ovulation.”
MYTH 6: There are no “external” signs of ovulation
It has always been assumed that people experience “hidden ovulation,” meaning there are no obvious changes to the world.
This is often not the case in the animal kingdom – female chimpanzees, for example, get a swollen pink bottom at this time.
Still, research seems to show that there are outward signs of ovulation — even if we can only see them subliminally.
In a University of Newcastle study, people were shown two otherwise identical photos of the same woman, one during ovulation and the other after – and almost always found the ovulation photos more attractive.
A UCLA study also found that women subconsciously speak in a higher-pitched, more “feminine” voice around the time of ovulation.
Even stranger, another study showed that our skin turns red around ovulation—but it’s imperceptible to the naked eye.
So who knows what other secret, subtle changes our bodies might be making?
MYTH 7: You can’t ovulate while breastfeeding
Don’t get caught by this one.
According to the NHS, “You can still get pregnant three weeks after having a baby, even if you’re breastfeeding and your period hasn’t returned.” Gulp!
The science behind this idea, called the lactational amenorrhea (LAM) method of birth control, makes sense.
Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates breast milk production, also suppresses ovulation.
However, this only works if your baby is under six months old and exclusively breastfed.
Also, any factor associated with a decrease in feeding frequency, from maternal stress to baby giving up a pacifier, can confuse the process. So if you want to be absolutely sure, you need an alternative form of birth control (if the sleepless nights aren’t already doing that for you).
It is important to know what is normal for you.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8634107/7-ovulation-myths/ The 7 Myths About Ovulation Every Woman Should Ignore