Most of us think about our cycles as involving three phases: pesky PMS, messy menstruation, and then the ‘normal’ rest of the cycle. It turns out that our period-centric view of our monthly cycles ignores the most exciting and essential part of our cycle: OVULATION. The whole point of our cycle, biologically speaking, is to make a baby. Therefore ovulation is the climactic moment of our menstrual cycles, and we deserve to know more about it. Here are some fun facts:
1) Each egg only lives up to 24 hours after ovulation.
Most of us are taught that we can get pregnant any day of our cycles. The truth is, conception is only possible for a very short window. After the egg is released from the ovary during ovulation, it survives for a maximum of 24 hours. Conception is physically impossible once the egg dies. Good to know, right??
2) Slippery when wet!
Leading up to ovulation, we get wet and slippery ‘down there.’ Sometimes you might even find what looks like eggwhite flowing down your leg. Many women think they have an infection a few days a month since there can be so much discharge. Doctors can confirm there’s no infection, but what they rarely tell women is that that slippery fluid is an essential part of their fertility! It’s our body’s way of preparing for lubricated intercourse and conception, and conception is literally impossible without it. We should celebrate it, not fear it!
3) Our bodies keep sperm alive during ovulation.
A little more about that slippery eggwhite fluid from #2... The same stuff that lubricates the vagina before ovulation also keeps sperm alive up to five days! Without it, tender little sperm dies within a few hours. The fluid sorts out the good ones, washes away the duds, mellows the acidic atmosphere and keeps the little guys well nourished, alive and well so that they’re ready to fertilize the egg when it’s released. That’s the magic of the eggwhite fluid, also known as fertile cervical fluid. By using that fluid to track your cycles and detect ovulation (in conjunction with specific rules for birth control), it’s possible to have 99% success avoiding pregnancy as well as to dramatically increase the odds of making a baby when you’re ready. Check out my classes if you want to learn more...
4) The great pinch.
Did you know you might be able to feel your ovulation? Often women feel a pinching or cramping sensation for a short time right around ovulation. Technically known as mittelschmerz, this sensation is a strong affirmation that ovulation is happening, or about to happen. It can come from a few different physiological processes: the stretching of the ovary as it expands around the growing follicle; the egg bursting out of the wall of the ovary; or the fallopian tubes contracting to draw the egg toward the womb. Tune in—mid-cycle tummy pain might hold some interesting insights!
5) It’s our most sexy, sensual and extroverted time of month.
Our bodies become much more open and receptive during ovulation. As we prepare to ovulate, we reach the highest levels of estrogen, testosterone and oxytocin surging through our veins. This sexy hormonal cocktail is designed to help you attract a mate, and to sense who is genetically a good match to make your future children. It makes you feel more extroverted and willing to engage with people to increase the odds of bringing someone to bed with you. Touch feels more wonderful, scents more distinct, and the sight of an attractive person brings more excitement ‘down there’ than any other time of month.
6) If you’re on hormonal birth control, you never ovulate.
Hormonal birth control overrides your body’s natural hormonal flow, thereby turning off ovulation. This includes any and all forms of the pill, the ring, injectables like Depo-Provera, implants, the Mirena IUD etc... So you’re stuck in a steady state that mimics early pregnancy (or early menopause). You never get the sensual, extroverted high that only ovulation brings. And you also miss out on the keen sensory awareness that helps you select a well-matched mate.
7) The door to your uterus opens during ovulation.
The cervix is the door to the uterus. Throughout most of the cycle, it’s clamped shut. Therefore, no sperm can enter the uterus the vast majority of the month. During the few days leading up to, and including the day of ovulation, the cervix lifts up higher in your vagina, and opens up. It lifts to create more space in the vagina for sexy encounters, and opens to allow sperm to travel up through the opening bathed in cervical fluid to help it survive its journey to the egg.
8) The egg floats in the watery darkness of your pelvis...
It’s a common misperception that the egg simply goes straight from the ovary into the fallopian tube during ovulation. It’s more dramatic and mysterious in reality. When the follicle holding the egg bursts open, the egg is suspended floating inside your belly for a brief time. Only then does the fallopian tube sense the presence of the egg, and reach over to slurp up the egg, pulsating gently to nudge the egg toward the uterus. The end of the fallopian tube closest to the ovary has finger-like projections called fimbrae—often the largest of these fingers rests upon the ovary, waiting poised for the precious moment of ovulation.
9) We had no clue about ovulation until 100 years ago.
Well, to be more precise, white male scientists had no idea when ovulation occurred relative to menstruation until the early 1900s. Can you imagine?? Every human on the planet (well, IVF babies aside) is a product of ovulation, and we’re just now getting a handle on what really happens during this process. Not surprisingly, some indigenous women have known about their fertile time for millennia. We know of at least three tribes in Australia and Africa where women checked their cervical fluid to know when they could conceive a child. We are finally returning to our birthright and claiming knowledge of this culminating event of our cycles!
Please share this article if you want to help more women learn about their cycles, wombs and OVULATION!
Amber Dawn Hallet
Cycle Awareness Educator
Maya Abdominal Therapist