The ovulation phase, or ovulatory phase, is one of the four phases of the menstrual cycle that the female body experiences. It is when the female body releases an egg and moves to the fallopian tubes to prepare for a possible pregnancy. In this article I’ll share a more in-depth look at the ovulation phase, how to tell when you’re ovulating, and how to make the most of it whether you’re hoping to conceive or not.
Ovulation Phase Meaning
The ovulation phase refers to a phase of the female menstrual cycle that represents the time that a woman is fertile. Anatomically speaking, at this time, the ovaries release an egg into one of the fallopian tubes and waits to be fertilized. The cervix may move up to a higher position as well. The ovulation phase sets off a surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and estrogen. It is the shortest phase of all the menstrual cycle, usually lasting 2-3 days.
While each woman experiences this phase of their cycle differently, generally speaking, during the ovulation phase sex drive is increased, and women have a heightened sense of smell, radiant or oily skin, and a higher basal body temperature.
How To Know When You’re In The Ovulation Phase
LH strips or ovulation strips are used to help measure ovulation in a woman’s cycle, in order to estimate the time in their cycle when they are most fertile. While using the test strips can sometimes be difficult to read, with practice they can be a wonderful tool. When you get a positive test result, that means you’re the most fertile in the next 24-48 hours.
I use Natural Cycles which is a natural birth control tracking app, when my ovulation phase approaches, it indicates what days I should take an ovulation test. It usually gives me 3-5 days during the month that I should test. These are the ovulation tests I’ve been using lately.
How to Use LH Test Strips
- Test around the same time of the day EVERY time you test.
- Purchase disposable cups like these to test your urine in for an easy clean up.
- Make sure you are following the packaging instructions to know how long to dip the stick in your urine for; it varies by brand.
- Set a timer on your phone IMMEDIATELY after you start the test so you don’t forget about it (I do this too often, ha!). The results on your test are usually only accurate for 10-20 minutes.
- Ensure your test line is as dark or DARKER than the control line before noting it as positive.
Rising Basal Body Temperature
Women’s basal body temperature fluctuates slightly depending on their cycle stage, this indicates if you are fertile or not. During ovulation phase the basal body temperature spikes slightly to indicate ovulation. According to Alberta, before ovulation, a woman’s basal body temperature averages 97°F-97.5°F and after ovulation, it rises to 97.6°F – 98.6°F.
This of course is different for everyone; I’ve noticed my temperature runs lower than the average most months. Thats why I love tracking everything in an app, it compares my temperature with my past measurements and also compares it with other user’s data to give you the best prediction of ovulation possible.
There’s actually quite a few symptoms that you can make note of to indicate if you may be in the ovulation phase. A few of these symptoms are:
Wet, Stretchy Cervical Mucus
Observing cervical mucus is one of the simplest ways to know when you are approaching the ovulation phase. During each phase of the menstrual cycle, women’s cervical mucus changes in consistency. A lot of women compare the body’s cervical mucus, or discharge, during ovulation as wet and slippery, like raw egg whites. You may also notice that it’s in higher abundance that at other times during the month. This is actually because that particular type of cervical mucus makes it easier for sperm to swim into the uterus, to aid in conception.
Because of the increase of hormones (estrogen, luteinizing hormone, and testosterone) in the body, many women experience increased libido during ovulation. This also makes sense from a primal standpoint, that during your most fertile time, you’d have a desire to try to conceive to perpetuate the human race. If you’re noticing a desire to “turn up the heat” it could be a big sign that you’re in the ovulation phase.
Like the libido changes mentioned above, tender breasts during ovulation is believed to also be caused by an increase in estrogen. Estrogen may stimulate the breast tissue and cause it to be more tender than at other times during your cycle. For some women, the breast soreness may even last all the way until the start of the menstrual cycle.
Change in Cervical Position
During ovulation, the cervix moves up to the highest position during your cycle to increase fertility. When it rises up, it makes it easier for the sperm to swim up and meet the egg. You can observe your cervical position throughout your entire cycle. In order to determine cervical position, you can use a clean finger to reach up the vaginal canal and feel for something that feels similar to the soft tip of your nose. As you take note of its position throughout your cycle, you will be able to know when it is high or low. For reference, your cervix drops down before your period.
Now That You Know The Ovulation Phase Meaning, Here’s How To Support It
Cycle Syncing In The Ovulation Phase
Cycle syncing is the practice of aligning your habits with your current menstrual cycle phase. Understanding what is going on in your body at a given time can give you insight to make more healthful decisions that can lead to more balanced hormones and a less painful period. If you want to learn more about cycle syncing, visit my blog post: What is the Cycle Syncing Method. Below are some tips on how you can sync your cycle with food, exercise, and skincare in the ovulation phase.
Eat Foods That Support Liver Detoxification
During ovulation, estrogen levels in the body are at their peak, it’s important to eat foods that will help your liver detox excess estrogen to prevent painful periods and other undesirable symptoms throughout your cycle. Supporting your liver can also help protect you from environmental toxins that are likely to throw your hormones off balance.
During this time, aim to add cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc and anti-inflammatory foods like berries, dark chocolate, vegetables, and whole foods to your diet.
Photo courtesy of Louis Hansel on Unsplash
More Foods To Focus On In The Ovulation Phase
- Brazil Nuts
- Organic Eggs
- Organic Pork
- Citrus Fruits
- Organic Salmon
Ovulation Phase Workouts
When estrogen peaks to cause the ovaries to release an egg, it also spikes your stamina and energy, making the ovulation phase a great time to focus on high intensity workouts. While the ovulation phase only lasts a few days, you may notice that the spike in energy comes a few days before and after your actual ovulation day. Workouts to focus on during that time are:
- HIIT (high intensity interval training)
- Weight Lifting
Ovulation Phase Skincare
Your body cycles through four phases of hormone fluctuations to support the four phases of the menstrual cycle, the skin is one of the clearest reflections of this. During the ovulation phase, the high levels of testosterone and estrogen can make women have glowing, clear skin or it can lead to oily, pimply skin. I unfortunately fall into the second category myself. While I’m in the process of learning if there is a way I can prevent that from happening, I can share some tips on how to take care of your skin during the ovulation phase from Clean Beauty School.
- Book a facial to deep clean pores before oil increases during Luteal Phase
- Exfoliate with lactic acid or fruit enzymes to keep pores free from build-up
Something I’ve also found extremely helpful in establishing a natural skin care routine that supports hormone balance is removing any products that contain fragrance. The ingredient listed as “fragrance” in a lot of cleansers, toners, masks, etc., is just a blanket term for 100s of uncategorized ingredients. Some of these ingredients have been shown to contain phthalates which is a chemical that disrupts hormones. This alone helped clear my skin from acne and reduced the number of eczema outbreaks I was experiencing.