In Part 1 of this series, I discussed Sign #1 which is that healthy cycles have a regular frequency and occur 25-35 days apart. In Part 2, I discussed Sign #2 which is observing premenstrual time. In Part 3, I discussed Sign #3 which is observing your menses when bleeding begins.
Sign #4: Healthy Ovulation
Your period occurs when the hormones drop triggering your body to shed the uterine lining that built up in the previous cycle. The start of bleeding is considered Day 1 of your cycle. Starting about Day 2 and Day 3, your hormones start to rise again for the next cycle. The hormones promote the growth and development of healthy eggs. Ovulation occurs when a spike in hormones causes the follicle to release a healthy egg.
In a 28 day cycle, ovulation typically occurs on Day 14 (with lots of variation from woman to woman). If you have a longer or shorter cycle, then ovulation typically occurs 14 days from the date the menses is expected.
Women can experience subtle (or not so subtle) shifts during ovulation. I believe it’s important for women to connect to their cycles to have a better understanding of what’s happening in their bodies.
Please note that hormonal birth control typically prevents ovulation from happening and also affects other factors to prevent pregnancy. Women on birth control may not be able to observe these shifts.
Healthy Step: Observe your Cervical Fluid
One of the best ways to identify ovulation is by observing your cervical fluid. Many women have an identifiable shift in their fluid to indicate that ovulation is happening.
First of all, I like to distinguish between cervical fluid and vaginal discharge since many women will use the word discharge for what is actually healthy cervical fluid.
Vaginal discharge is typically caused by an infection. With an infection, women may notice a change in the amount of fluid, thickness, color, or odor. The discharge may also be accompanied by vaginal itching, soreness or burning. This is something that typically requires a visit to the gynecologist for a diagnosis. (As an aside, natural medicine works really well to balance the body to prevent the recurrence of infections. Also, depending on the type of infection, there are natural remedies that can help in conjunction or in place of conventional medications).
Cervical fluid (also known as cervical mucous) is a healthy fluid secreted by the cervix in response to hormonal changes.
Women can observe cervical fluid by noticing vaginal changes in how dry or wet they feel. Some women will have fluid throughout their entire cycle. Some women will only notice it during ovulation.
Typically as the body nears ovulation, cervical fluid will be the most abundant and women may notice increased wetness. Fertile fluid, which is released at ovulation, is typically the consistency of raw egg whites- clear and thin, slippery and stretchy.
I recommend to start paying attention to your vaginal fluid. With time, you will be able to use changes in your cervical fluid to identify ovulation.
Healthy Step: Observe shifts in your body during ovulation
Once you start to identify ovulation by observing your cervical fluid, you may be amazed by the subtle or not so subtle shifts in your body and mood when you are ovulating. Many women feel a healthy boost in libido and energy levels during ovulation. Some women notice discomfort during ovulation including lower abdominal pain, migraines and headaches, mood swings, anxiety, back pain, breast tenderness, and more.
Some of my patients have been surprised to realize that the abdominal cramps, anxiety, headaches, insomnia or other symptoms that just seemed to come out of the blue each month actually correlated to their ovulation time.
Information is powerful. Many women feel relieved to know that the uncomfortable symptoms are not just random, but actually due to a change in hormones. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be really helpful to create more hormonal balance to lessen the hormonal discomfort.
A bonus for women who are wanting to get pregnant: you can use the information about your ovulation for optimal timing to conceive. You are most fertile when you notice the fertile fluid!
I hope you have enjoyed this series. I strongly believe all women should learn about their cycles so they can be more connected to their bodies. Our bodies are truly amazing!
If you are interested in learning more about your cycles for fertility and pregnancy or preventing pregnancy, I can highly recommend reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler and Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer. They are both great guides in tracking the cycles to be even more connected to your fertility.