August 19 2021 | Written by Miranda Van Haarlem (She/Her)
Let me paint you a picture. It is a Wednesday morning and I am getting dressed for the day. I go to put on my bra and I notice that my nipples are firstly hard as rocks and secondly even my comfiest and in turn favourite bra still hurts to wear due to the sensitivity of my boobs. I admittedly think my period is coming soon and as a religious user of a period tracker app, I open the app to see what stage of my cycle I am in, expecting it to say “period in 4 days”. Here’s the catch, when my boobs are sensitive, it never fails to say “ovulation occurring”. I find it interesting that we always talk about the symptoms and changes menstruators feel the days before their periods begin but we don’t talk about the changes we feel at other points in our cycle, particularly around ovulation. And with that, I welcome you to Ovulation Station; the blog post where we talk about what you can expect to feel like surrounding ovulation.
What is Ovulation?
Before we dive into the deep end, let’s understand what ovulation is. In short, ovulation is a part of the menstrual cycle where there is a release of a mature egg from one of two ovaries. This occurs once a month and in the standard 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs on or around day 14. Once the egg has been released from the ovary, it has the ability to become fertilized by sperm. As mentioned in our previous blog Do I Make You Horny Baby? - Your Menstrual Cycle, there is a lot going on with hormones during the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, which as you can probably guess is why many menstruators, including myself, experience changes and /or symptoms around ovulation time. Let’s get into some of these symptoms that may give you some “a ha” moments.
In the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler cervical fluid is described as the following,
“Cervical fluid is to woman what seminal fluid is to the man. Since men are always fertile, they produce seminal fluid every day. Women, on the other hand, are fertile only a fews days around ovulation, and therefore produce the substance necessary for sperm nourishment and mobility only during that time.”
Around ovulation you may notice a change in your cervical fluid texture due to the increase in estrogen. Cervical mucus tends to become stretchy and clear and/or cloudy. Think egg whites. This change in cervical mucus actually helps sperm swim to the egg that has been released through ovulation.
Also, it is possible that you may experience light brown spotting on or around your ovulation time. As we have noted in previous blogs, brown blood is usually leftover period blood from your last cycle, therefore it is older blood and has become oxidized.
This is a huge symptom for me and I have my hormones to thank for it - as usual. Directly after ovulation, menstruators experience a surge in progesterone which is responsible for increased breast and nipple sensitivity.
A tip from Miranda: I usually stand in the shower for an extra 5 minutes and allow the hot water to fall on my chest - it truly does help with the tenderness.
Pelvic or Lower Abdominal Pain
I once had a friend tell me she could feel herself ovulating every month and after doing some research I realized she was not alone and that there is actually a term used for it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Mittelschmerz is one-sided, lower abdominal pain associated with ovulation. Mittelschmerz is German for "middle pain”. This lower abdominal pain can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
Another tip from Miranda: taking a warm bath or even using a heat pack can help reduce pelvic pain and discomfort for some.
Oh the everchanging Libido. Surprisingly, leading up to ovulation you may find yourself extremely horny, but after ovulation has occurred you may feel the exact opposite. To learn more about ovulation and lidido, take a look at our previous blog, Do I Make You Horny Baby? - Your Menstrual Cycle.
Basal Temperature Increases
Personally, this is my most dreaded ovulation symptom. I find myself waking up at night in the middle of a hot flash. I feel as if I have been in a desert for 5 days with no drinking water. No, I am not overreacting. If I were to guess how much my body temperature increases after ovulation I would say 5 degrees or more. That being said, I can say I was a little bit shocked to find out it increases barely a degree. Our body temperature changes naturally by a couple degrees throughout the menstrual cycle. A menstruator’s temperature tends to be lower in the first part of their cycle ranging from 97.0 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. After ovulation, menstruators have a spike in body temperature due to the heat-inducing hormone progesterone that can be 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit and higher.
Another tip from Miranda: If you are like me and get night sweats around ovulation, I recommend wrapping yourself in a towel to sleep - I know this may sound odd but trust me it works.
Due to the changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, many menstruators feel sick around ovulation. Nausea and headaches are a common symptom associated with ovulation for many.
Mood fluctuations are always happening due to our ever changing hormone levels but they may be more significant around ovulation. Once ovulation has taken place, estrogen levels drop and progesterone levels start to increase. Hormonal shifts in our bodies can have a large influence on our serotonin levels. Serotonin is the main hormone that regulates our mood which directly impacts other functions of our day to day lives including sleep cycles and appetite. When serotonin levels are lower, we may feel more mood fluctuations than usual. Our sleep schedules may be off as well as our eating patterns.
In preparation for this blog, we also ran some polls on our community and found out the following:
67% of our community tracks their menstrual cycles
74% of our community experiences physical changes during ovulation
72% of our community experiences emotional changes during ovulation
These are the symptoms they experienced most often:
Well, I hope you have enjoyed your time at the ovulation station. Whether you have an answer to unexplained night sweats or excruciating breast tenderness or you simply learned how you can support those who are menstruators, I am happy you are here!