IS EVERY CYCLE OVULATORY?
A popular question my clients ask me regularly, is "do I ovulate every month"? This is a great question as our hormones, periods and even our overall health relies on us ovulating. From the full hormonal cycle, to breast health, bone health and heart health, it is important that we ensure we are ovulating when we are supposed to, however, it is something we take for granted, and even choose to switch off by taking hormonal contraceptives. If you want to know more about this, sign up for the cycle charting toolkit at the top of the page.
Who Doesn't Ovulate?
1. Young Women Going Through Puberty
Young women who are still going through puberty. It take take up into the early 20s for a woman to become hormonally mature, and in that time, it takes a while for the body to get the hang of menstrual cycles. I'm sure you can remember back to your early menstrual years and remember your bleeds being all over the place. Unless I am working with someone with evidence of endometriosis, I generally recommending ensuring that the young woman are eating plenty of nutrients, and leading an active and healthy lifestyle.
2. Most Women On The Pill
Most pills and other hormonal birth control methods prevent ovulation from occurring. If you want to know whether yours is one of them, read the patient safety information leaflet (if you don't have it but you do know what brand, you can look it up online). Other contraceptives work by allowing ovulation but prevent the egg from implanting.
3. Women Who Over Exercise
So this one is very personal to each individual, but when you do hardcore exercise, many times a week and put your body under stress, you will burn a lot of fat and that is required for hormone production for the reproductive system and to put down around the upper legs and abdomen in order to gestate a baby The level at which you are exercising too much is different from person to person and some bodies gradually adapt to higher rates of exercise, so clues that you are exercising too much is not having regular ovulation. You can check whether you are ovulating in a number of different ways (not using OPKs). Also regular periods that hit all the healthy period criteria are another clue that your exercise habits are fine.
However, if you period disappears, this is a sign that you may be over doing it and need to find a healthy medium if you wish to restore ovulation.
4. Women With Too Little Or Too Much Body Fat
Like exercise, we all have a body fat Goldilocks zone with body fat. When you have too much or too little fat for your particular body, this can switch off ovulation too. Too little body fat means not enough hormones can be produced and too much can also switch off the hormonal system or cause imbalances such as oestrogen dominance, which causes a whole cascade of menstrual cycle issues.
Again, the range in which your health is at its optimal is different from person to person, so I can't make individual recommendations, however, as with exercise, looking for signs of regular ovulation and that your period is healthy is a good indicator. Even better is getting hormone testing, but this isn't always accessible for many.
5. Women With Hormonal Conditions
There are a number of diagnosable conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and a number of other hormonal imbalances that can prevent or interrupt ovulation. It is important to bear in mind that some women with these conditions have regular ovulation, textbook perfect periods and no symptoms at all. However, if you get period pain, PMS, spotting or other symptoms, the chances are there is some hormonal imbalance, it may not be stopping you from ovulating, it is still something that you can fix. Considering it is thought that 1 in 5 women of reproductive age has PCOS and estimates are that endometriosis affects 6-10% of the female population, that is a large number of women with underling menstrual cycle conditions.
6. Healthy Women With Regular Cycles
The Centre for Menstrual and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR), found in a study that at any one point in time, 10%-18% of the female population who had what were considered to be normal and healthy menstrual cycles did not ovulate. There was nothing wrong with these women, just a one of occurrence that occurred randomly, and the next cycle would be ovulatory.
How Can You Tell If You Are Ovulating?
Some women will insist that cervical fluid is a great way to tell that you are ovulating on its own, but it is important to remember that cervical fluid, whilst and incredibly useful sign and indicator of fertile health, it is an indicator that the body is preparing to ovulate, not that it definitely will.
There are two sure fire signs that you can use to confirm ovulation. Firstly, post ovulation, a rise in progesterone occurs. This is measurable using Basal Body Temperature (BBT) charting, although you do need to know, understand and correctly apply the rules to see the temperature shit. This is a very useful, method that is easy to learn at home. There is also the "Day 21" test, which measures progesterone. It is named for the day of the cycle it is supposed to be taken, 7 days post ovulation, which is assumed to be at day 14. However, many doctors order it at random days such as day 3 of the menstrual cycle which is useless or if, like most of the population, you do not ovulate on day 14, then you need to count 7 days after your temperature spike to get the test done on the right day.
The second way to confirm ovulation is an ultrasound, although those are not easy or affordable to arrange each cycle, which is why I love to use BBT.
There are a number of things you can do to start checking that you are ovulating regularly. You can learn the signs to chart our cycle using the Sympto-Thermal Method using my course here.
:You can also read some of the blog posts below to understand more about your menstrual cycle signs and symptoms.
Read more about Why I Don't Recommend Using OPKs
Read more about Signs Your Period is Healthy or Needs a Helping Hand
Read more about Root Causes of Period Problems