Ovarian Cysts Ovulation Cycle

The cycle of ovulation begins when a woman’s ovary releases a mature egg. This egg travels down the fallopian tube to have a chance to become fertilized by a man’s sperm. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the lining of the woman’s uterus sheds, along with blood and the unfertilized egg. This occurs monthly and is called menstruation (commonly known as a woman’s “period”).

The cycle of ovulation repeats approximately every 28 days, but different women have different cycle lengths. The average period begins on the 14th day of the 28-day cycle, but this also varies. Hormones released by the hypothalamus control a woman’s cycle of ovulation.

Women should understand the process of their ovulation cycle, as it is important for both female health and conception. Women with fertility issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) should be even more aware of their cycles. A doctor will be able to address any concerns that these women have.

Signs of Ovulation

The signs of ovulation are usually only noticeable to the woman experiencing them, and may include:

  • A change in the mucous produced by the cervix
  • Heightened sexual desire a few days before the cycle of ovulation
  • Slight changes in the cervix itself.

Phases of the Cycle of Ovulation

The cycle of ovulation can be divided into three phases:

  • Follicular phase: The follicle, containing an egg, develop and mature within the ovary. The follicular phase of the cycle of ovulation continues until ovulation occurs.
  • Ovulation: An ovarian follicle ruptures, releasing the egg for fertilization.
  • Luteal phase: The ruptured follicle, now called a corpus luteum, produces hormones to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the egg remains unfertilized, the cycle of ovulation begins again.

Using an Ovulation Cycle Calendar or Calculator

Stress, emotions and illness can affect the cycle of ovulation and when signs of ovulation occur. Despite these factors, there are methods of tracking a cycle of ovulation, including:

  • Fertility awareness
  • Fertility monitor
  • Ovulation cycle calculator
  • Ovulation cycle calendar
  • Ovulation kit.

Fertility awareness means that a woman monitors her own body for signs of ovulation. This may include watching the texture of cervical mucous, or using a basal thermometer to detect higher body temperature.

A woman may purchase an ovulation cycle calendar, ovulation cycle calculator, fertility monitor or ovulation kit at a drug store, online store, or with the help of a doctor. These tools can also help a woman confirm signs of ovulation.

Induced Ovulation

Just as oral contraceptives can halt the cycle of ovulation, hormone therapy can induce ovulation. Different hormone therapies use different hormones, depending on the fertility problem being corrected. These therapies may be used to encourage fertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other conditions.

Ovulation and Period Facts

Here are some general facts about a woman’s period:

  • A menstrual period can occur even if ovulation has not occurred.
  • An egg lives 12 to 24 hours after it is released from the ovary.
  • During ovulation, some women feel a slight pain near their ovaries.
  • Some women experience light spotting during ovulation.

A doctor can answer any questions about the menstrual cycle. Women should be aware of their cycle of ovulation, as understanding makes dealing with fertility issues or other concerns much easier.

Resources

American Pregnancy Association Staff. (2008). Understanding ovulation. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from the American Pregnancy Association Web site: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/understandingovulation.html.

Merck Manuals Online Medical Library Staff. (2007). Menstrual cycle. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library Web site: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec22/ch241/ch241e.html.

Parent Time Staff. (n.d.). Ovulation cycle and pregnancy. Retrieved February, 2010, from the Parent Time Web site: http://www.parenttime.com/pregnancyarticles/ovulationcycle.html.