The term “ovulation” is thrown around a lot, but most people don’t actually know what it means or what it does to your body. Growing up, I didn’t even understand that there was a difference between ovulation and menstruation (whoops). While you may not be as confused as I once was, it’s important to know what is happening in your body and how it can affect your mood, fertility, and hormones.
Why should I care about ovulation?
Ovulation vs. menstruation
Ovulation happens when an egg is released from your ovaries. It typically occurs in the middle of your menstrual cycle and indicates the highest fertility within that cycle. In other words, people normally talk about ovulation in terms of planning sex for the most likely time to get pregnant.
Menstruation, on the other hand, is the bleeding that occurs after ovulation, assuming you didn’t get pregnant. Ever missed a period and freaked out that you could be pregnant? That’s your body waiting for your menstrual cycle to begin. This cycle usually begins on the first day of your period and lasts anywhere from 21-35 days.
How do I know when I’m ovulating? But am I ovulating?
If you're wondering "do I ovulate?" you're not alone. Contrary to popular belief, not every woman ovulates like clockwork 14 days after she gets her period. Just like most periods, ovulation isn’t always so predictable. We can’t stress this enough. Other than taking ovulation tests, there are a few ways to tell if you’re ovulating. One is a change in the consistency of your discharge. When you’re ovulating, you’ll notice vaginal discharge gets wet, stretchy, and feels like raw egg whites (apologies to your breakfast this morning). Additionally, there are lots of useful apps that track your ovulation so you’re always in the know about what’s happening in your body.
Things that affect ovulation...
If you’re worried that you’re not ovulating regularly, stressing out can actually make things worse. We have some good news and some bad news for you. There are certain things that can mess with your ovulation, indicating that it might be time to make some lifestyle changes. Stress, for starters, actually affects ovulation just like it affects almost everything in life. So, if you’re trying to conceive or worried about ovulation, take time to recognize what calms you down. Additionally, negative sleeping habits can take toll on your ovulation cycle. Your body is a temple, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising. Your body will thank you later.
How ovulation affects your mood
Have you ever had to miss out on something because your cramps were so bad? Or break out with acne at the most inconvenient time thanks to your period? We hear you. A lot of the side effects we experience from our periods are caused by the ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle usually has four phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal. The ovulation phase can have physical and emotional effects on women that can be both positive and negative. When we ovulate, we tend to feel more energetic and experience a higher sex drive. So, if you’re trying for a baby, listen to your body and get it on. If you’re not, and you notice you’re more in the mood than usual, it might be smart to refrain from sex unless you’re well protected (sorry, sister).
Unless you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s unlikely that you’ve taken an ovulation test. It’s possible that you haven’t even heard of an ovulation test before! We’re here to explain what an ovulation test is, what the results mean, and the benefits that it can provide.
Okay, but what is an ovulation test? How do ovulation tests work?
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) are at-home tests that measure the hormone LH (luteinizing hormone) in your urine. The kit has two lines: the control line and the test line. The control line is just to let you know the test is working, and the test line indicates whether you’re ovulating or not. If the test line is a similar color to the control line, it means your LH levels are high and you’re likely about to ovulate.
What do the results mean?
So, why should you care if you’re ovulating or not? If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s best to try on days that your LH levels are highest (usually 36 hours before ovulation). A positive result on an ovulation test doesn’t always mean you’re ovulating, however, it might mean you will ovulate soon (within 12-24 hours). In a textbook ovulation cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14. But does anyone really have a perfect cycle? We know we don’t, and that’s why we started taking ovulation tests.
How do I take a test?
Urine tests are the most common and typically give you results within minutes. Just like pregnancy tests, you simply pee on a stick to learn what is happening in your body. Unfortunately, the instructions that come with most ovulation tests don’t always make it simple. Luckily, we found some helpful tips for taking ovulation tests that will hopefully make your life easier. It’s also suggested to take 2 tests a day until you get a positive result. You should start taking them many days before expected ovulation to be sure you don’t miss it. Ovulation is tricky to detect, so you want to be sure you catch it while it’s happening. After you take the test, it’s usually recommended to check the results no later than 10 minutes do avoid a false-positive. If the result is positive, you’re likely to ovulate within 12-36 hours from when you take the test. If you’re trying for a baby, this is your time to get going!
When should I take an ovulation test?
If you’re anything like us, you hate being caught off guard by your period. While predicting your period has been made possible by menstruation tracking apps, taking an ovulation test can help you predict even further into the future. Ovulation happens when an egg is released from your ovaries, and menstruation is the bleeding that comes after. So, no better way to prepare for your period than by finding out when you’re ovulating. Additionally, taking ovulation tests is very useful in planning sex with your partner on days you’re most likely to get pregnant (if that’s what you’re going for). Whether planning for a family or planning to avoid having your period on vacation, ovulation tests will give you the answers you’re looking for.
So, trying to get pregnant or not, you can use ovulation tests to get the inside scoop on what’s happening in your body. We started taking them and haven’t looked back.
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