Tracking Ovulation History – The Life of Your Ovaries
By Dr E on July 18, 2014
Tracking ovulation is one of the most effective ways to boost your chances of getting pregnant. Here are some factors that affect your ovulation cycle and tips for tracking it.
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Understanding The Life of Your Ovaries
It is important to know if you ovulate (release an egg) on a regular basis. However, it can be very confusing for women to know if or when they are ovulating and need tools to help track it.
Tracking your ovulation history as it happens is easier than trying to remember 20 years later so write down what you remember or know now! This can help your fertility doctor understand potential causes in case you develop fertility issues later in life.
Ovulation and Birth Control
Most women will be on some type of hormonal contraceptive (birth control) during their lives. Hormonal contraceptives work by stopping the body from ovulating. Therefore, it is important to write down a history of your natural cycles BEFORE you start hormone contraception, or even to just think back on different times you had your period when you were younger and make a note (e.g. regularly, never, all the time).
Rest assured, there is no evidence that hormonal contraception decreases your ovarian reserve, or fertility, but occasionally women will need to wait several months for their baseline cycle to return once they stop these. It is uncommon to need to wait long for normal cycles after removal of a Mirena IUD. It is more common to need to wait several months after injectables such as Depo Provera.
Signs of Ovulation
There are three general signs that suggest you are or were ovulating regularly. The first is that your periods are regular. Unfortunately, many doctors will simply ask patients if they have regular periods. This is almost too subjective. Some women may have bleeding every 19-40 days and never ovulate, but might answer this question “yes” because it is normal to them. Most women who are ovulating have cycles in the 25-35 day range.
The second cluster of symptoms is around the actual time of ovulation in your mid-cycle. These symptoms can be hard to remember if you have been on birth control for many years and haven’t seen them in a long time! They include a mid-cycle increase in libido, mid-cycle increase in cervical fluids (mucus or discharge) which may look like egg whites when you wipe or on your underwear and a possible side cramp.
The last group of symptoms occurs just as you’re getting your period. They are the classic symptoms everyone complains of as PMS: breast sensitivity, pelvic cramps, and a drop in mood.
Basics of Tracking Your Ovulation History
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Thinking back on your natural cycle and remembering what it was like prior to contraceptives is a very helpful exercise that can guide your doctor in trouble shooting current or future fertility issues. We know some women are just born “poor ovulators”, but others develop ovulation problems as they age. Knowing what kind of an ovulator you have been can help your doctor better understand your reproductive capacity and what kinds of treatments may be needed to optimize fertility in the future. Women’s ovulation patterns can become less regular with decreased ovarian reserve, pronounced weight loss or weight gain, medications, stress, and too much exercise.
If you are young now or have daughters, tell them to track their ovulation by writing down their body’s cycle history NOW and keep it some place special. It is very common for women to be on hormonal contraceptives for decades and to have no memory of their own natural body rhythms once they are ready to become moms!
Read more about fertility by Dr. Ellington and others at the Pre-Seed TTC Blog.
- Dr. E
Science can help us nurture and enjoy our sexual selves.
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