Did you know that ovulation is broken down into 3 phases?
What better way to start the discussion about ovulation than to give you the exact definition of it. Let’s get started! Ovulation refers to the release of an egg during menstruation in females. The part of the ovary known as the ovarian follicle discharges the egg. Did you know that the egg is also known as an ovum, oocyte or female gamete? Though the egg is known to have a number of different names, each of them refer to an immature egg cell in the ovulation process. The ovulation process is broken down into phases, just as the menstrual cycle is.
When the egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tube where it may or may not be met by a sperm and become fertilized. The three phases of the ovulation process are: periovulatory (follicular phase), ovulatory an postovulatory (luteal phase). In the periovulatory phase a layer of cells around the ovum becomes like mucus and expands, thus the uterus begins to thicken. Next, in the ovulatory phase, enzymes are secreted and form a hole, the ovum and it’s cells use the stigma to move into the fallopian tube. This part of the ovulation process marks the period of fertility that usually lasts 24-48 hours. In the last phase, postovulatory, LH (luteinizing hormone) is secreted and a fertilized egg slowly stops producing hormones and dissolves within 24 hours.
The most likely sign that a woman is ovulating is that she is having regular, mostly predictable periods. Release of the egg generally occurs 12 to 16 days before the next menstrual cycle is due. Something important to know about eggs is that although women ovulate an egg each month, these eggs are not newly created! At the time a female is born, she has all of the eggs that she will ever have and as time goes on and she continues to age, the number of eggs naturally decreases.
Women that experience issues with ovulation can experience infertility or difficulty conceiving. Some of these disorders or difficulties may look like: PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), hypothalamic dysfunction, premature ovarian insufficiency (a loss of normal function of the ovaries before the age of 40) and hyperprolactinemia (a condition where someone has a higher than normal level of the hormone prolactin in the blood).
Even in a regular cycle, ovulation may shift and can happen earlier or later than expected. This is mostly due to how we treat our bodies-- diet, lifestyle, stress and so much more. Mainly, stress can cause ovulation to shift or not occur at all. Ovulation, just like the menstrual cycle and its phases, is a complex process that a woman’s body experiences.
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