From the first day of your period, an egg begins to mature in preparation for ovulation. What may seem like a simple process, involves an intricate orchestration of hormones which encourage growth of both the egg and the womb lining. The hormones also coordinate the timing of the egg’s release and of menstruation.
Ovulation is an essential part of your monthly menstrual cycle.
With the prompting of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) produced by the pituitary gland, the egg grows within a follicle in the ovary. Technically, several eggs begin to grow, but only one continues to maturation. As the egg develops, the follicle releases increasing levels of estrogen, which activate the building of the uterine lining.
The heighted estrogen and FSH levels signal the pituitary gland to produce a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH triggers ovulation and the egg ruptures from the follicle, leaving the ovary, and travels through the fallopian tube to await fertilization.
The remaining follicle in the ovary, called the corpus luteum, produces hormones, primarily progesterone, to maintain and continue to grow the uterine lining. A healthy uterine lining is required for implantation of a fertilized egg.
If the egg is not fertilized, the corpus luteum shrinks and stops producing progesterone. This results in the shedding of the uterine lining which is your menstruation.
Why is ovulation important for overall health?
1) Ovulation is essential for the production of estrogen and progesterone. The roles of estrogen and progesterone go beyond periods and fertility. The levels of these two hormones and their relationship with each other impact the following:
- Bone health
- Mood and Anxiety
- Weight management
- Energy levels
- Immune system function
- Breast, vaginal, and uterine health
2) Ovulation is an indicator of overall health and a reflection of the balance and interplay between all of the endocrine hormones. Lack of ovulation can result from or be a symptom of:
- Estrogen and progesterone imbalances
- Insulin resistance
- Poor thyroid function
- Excess stress or adrenal fatigue
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Eating disorders
3) Ovulation represents our connection to ourselves as women, to our creativity, and to our individual expression. Emotions and our relationship with the world around us can greatly impact hormones, menstrual cycles, and ovulation. Ovulation can be affected by:
- Rejection of feminine values/nature to conform to masculine ideals of success and strength
- Emotional or physical wounds to femininity
- Suppression of creativity or self-expression
Do you know if/when you are ovulating? In my next post, I will walk you through how to track your cycle and determine if you are ovulating. (PS. this does not work if you are on a hormonal birth control pill. The OCP suppresses ovulation....but that is another blog post)
Here's to the power in our feminine cycles.