Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary. It is a part of the menstrual cycle. The released egg is pushed down into the fallopian tube, thus making the egg ready for fertilization. Ovulation only happens once and midway through the menstrual cycle (Note: during the next menstrual cycle, it could change).
In women with PCOS, this process of ovulation is disturbed. While it does impact chances of fertility, there are several ways to ovulate naturally in PCOS.
Phases of Ovulation H2
For easy understanding, the menstrual cycle is made up of the ovarian and uterine cycle. During pre-ovulation, the menstruation and proliferative phases occur during the uterine cycle. While the follicular phase occurs during the ovarian cycle, after Ovulation, the luteal phase occurs. Therefore, the stages are:
- Menstruation phase
- Follicular phase
- Proliferative phase
- Ovulation, and
- Luteal phase
Let’s take a look at each phase.
Menstruation occurs in the uterus and results in a discharge of blood through the vagina. It lasts from the time bleeding starts till it stops. It is the first stage of the menstrual cycle. It begins when an egg from the previous cycle isn’t fertilized. In this phase, the cervix and vagina shed blood and endometrium because the thickened lining of the uterus, which is expected to support pregnancy, is no more needed. Average lasting period for this phase is about 3 to 7 days (but it could be eight days).
It is the phase that occurs from the first day of menstruation until the period of Ovulation. This phase occurs in the ovaries. During the period, the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland (a small section of the brain where hormones are produced), to produce and release a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH tells the ovaries to prepare for the release of an egg from the ovary. The eggs are present in small sacs known as follicles. For a high percentage of women, the follicular phase lasts between 10 to 27 days, depending on the cycle.
While the ovaries are working on developing the follicles containing the egg, the uterus is reacting and responding to the estrogen produced by the follicles. This, in turn, rebuilds the lining that is shed during the just concluded period. It is known as the proliferative phase because the lining of the uterus becomes thick.
At this phase, the rising estrogen levels initiate the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH). Now, Ovulation (the release of a mature egg) begins. The egg travels through the fallopian tube toward the uterus to be fertilized by the sperm. Ovulation happens around day 13 to 15 if the menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days. It lasts for about 24 hours and after, the egg will die or dissolve if not fertilized.
It is the beginning of the post-ovulation cycle. It occurs in the ovary and starts from Ovulation until the next menstruation. After Ovulation, the egg-contained follicle changes into corpus luteum which produces progesterone and little estrogen. The progesterone from the corpus luteum will support the pregnancy by keeping the uterine lining thick if the egg is not fertilized. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum will shrink or break down, resulting in decreasing levels of progesterone and estrogen. The luteal phase lasts between 10 to 17 days, with an average of 14 days.
The Perfect Time to Get Pregnant
The most preferred or advised time to get pregnant is during Ovulation. It is the best time to have sex. It usually is about 14 days after the first day of the last period, if the cycle lasts 28 days. The egg lasts for about 24 hours, and the sperm must fertilize the egg within this specified time. The sperm can live for about seven days inside the body of a woman. So, if an individual had sex days before Ovulation, the sperm will have time to travel up the fallopian tubes, waiting for the egg to be released.
What Happens to Ovulation in PCOS and Why
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the leading cause of ovulatory infertility. A woman having PCOS tends to produce excess androgens or male hormones. This result in a disturbance of a woman’s menstrual cycle and Ovulation is affected. Her menstrual cycles may be unpredictable, longer than the standard time, or may not occur at all. The woman may or may not ovulate in a given cycle.
How to Ovulate Naturally in PCOS
Today, it’s not news that a few women don’t ovulate as expected or have PCOS. Having natural Ovulation in PCOS can be induced by a few remedies:
Eating of foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. These foods contain rich beneficial antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene, and lutein that will help you to treat PCOS naturally.
Also, eating a large breakfast can help improve the hormonal effects of PCOS (Note: it is advisable to reduce dinner size to avoid weight gain). Eating of fiber, good-fat dairy, and swapping of some animal proteins for vegetable proteins can help induce natural Ovulation. Finally, cutting down of low-carbohydrate meals help too. Remember, a woman needs good, complex carbs in PCOS.
Herbs are usually safe to use all around the year. However, in rare cases, some herbs might not suit all. It is always suggested to check with your health care provider before using them to boost Ovulation. Some of them that are beneficial to use for infertility is Vitex (chasteberry), evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, green tea, and Red clover. Herbs combined with prenatal vitamins give more effective results.
Few studies have revealed that 12% of women with weight issues are effected with fertility. Being obese often lessens your chances of conceiving. Higher intensity workouts often work against infertility. Moderate exercises like brisk walking, dancing, cycling, swimming, Pilates, tai-chi, and yoga are the best natural ways to increase fertility in women.