Women who have focused on their fertility are often very aware of the signs of ovulation, but women who haven’t tried to fall pregnant, or who fell pregnant easily in their past may not have been taught what to look for to whether this important monthly hormone event is happening or not.
Ovulation is the trigger for the production of both estrogen and progesterone, and if this event doesn’t happen, women can face symptoms similar to menopause (hot flashes, vaginal dryness or mood changes) and can have a significant impact on a woman’s metabolism. Women who don’t ovulate have higher appetites, more cravings, and when they gain weight it tends to be abdominal weight gain (around the middle) versus in the hip and gluteal regions.
We educate women often to look for signs of ovulation to help them better understand their bodies and to track their progress towards health while we are working together. Our goal is to help women feel more confident about their monthly cycle, and to empower them to work towards hormonal health.
Sign #1: Do you have PMS?
This might sound like a funny thing to look for, but PMS actually is caused by ovulation. If you have monthly cyclical changes in your breast fullness or pain, bloating or digestion, or mood-based PMS changes the chances are you ovulate. Women who are on the pill, or who do not ovulate are technically not experiencing PMS (although they may have body and mood changes too, they just aren’t cyclical). If you aren’t sure if your symptoms are cyclical, track them for a few months to see if there is a pattern to when you experience them. If you don’t have any hint of PMS either your hormones are very healthy, or you might not be ovulating – especially if your cycle is irregular or your period shows up unannounced when you don’t expect it to.
Sign #2: Do you have cervical mucous changes
Vaginal discharge is a normal experience through the month and the consistency changes depending on where you are in your cycle. Around ovulation, cervical mucous changes to more slippery and an egg-white consistency as the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Egg white cervical mucous provides nutrition and support for sperm to encourage them towards the egg being released and is a very positive sign that your body is ovulating. Paying attention to cervical mucous can help you understand if you are ovulating or not.
Sign #3: What does your lab work say?
A simple blood test in your luteal phase (the second two weeks of your cycle) can tell us if you have ovulated. Progesterone is solely made during ovulation, and if it’s detectable in the luteal phase (over 8 ng/mL on your blood work) then you have ovulated. Typically, luteal phase testing looks at more than one hormone and is based on the reasons why your ND thinks you might not be ovulating. For some women their age changes their likelihood of ovulating each month, for others underlying health conditions such as PCOS can prevent ovulation. The tests you are recommended will help your ND understand your hormones and will help them develop a plan to support you towards better ovulation and better overall health.