What is ovulation? Why is ovulation important? How do I know if I am ovulating? And, what are the tips for healthy ovulation?
Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovaries. The egg is released by a surge of hormones that is regulated by the hypothalamus (located at the base of the brain). So, it’s your brain that is the main decision maker when it comes to keeping your body ovulating. If the hypothalamus is unhappy, scared, or stressed this could be the reason that you’re not ovulating (and in some cases, not having a period).
As women it’s extremely important that we ovulate: ovulating is the only way that we make the ovarian supporting hormones estrogen and progesterone.
E S T R O G E N helps with muscle growth, it helps keeps your bones and brain healthy, and increases the long term health of the entire cardiovascular system. Estrogen aids in producing serotonin, which is why you’re more energetic in the days leading up to ovulation.
P R O G E S T E R O N E reduces inflammation, it keeps your immune system healthy, increases the health of your breast tissue, and your thyroid. These hormones are also responsible for making you feel good, they aid in sleep, rest and recovery, and help in the process of releasing Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin which are essential chemicals responsible for your happiness!
So, even if you’re not planning on having a baby, you still want to make sure you are ovulating in order to benefit from all the gifts that having a healthy cycle has to offer. And, this process is one that the female body absolutely expects to have in order to maintain optimal wellness.
--- In the women’s health world we talk a lot about “balancing hormones,” but the reality is that if our hormones were always in balance we wouldn’t have a period, we wouldn’t have that juicy feel-good feeling, be outgoing or energetic, and we wouldn’t ovulate. It is necessary for our hormones to fluctuate because that’s what gives us a flow every month. The key to keeping things 'in balance' is to ensure that progesterone and estrogen are rising and falling at the appropriate time. We can best achieve this through living a healthy lifestyle, eating nourishing meals, managing our stress levels, eating the appropriate foods, and moving our body (preferably outside). These balancing habits are what we discuss in depth in Ayurveda School. But, for now here are some simple tips on how to get your hormones back on track.
Signs you are ovulating: your temperature rises (you'll know this if you're tracking your basal body temperature, which we recommend doing whether or not you're trying to conceive), you are getting a period, you have cervical fluid (cervical fluid is not always a clear sign, but it’s at least always a sign that the body is trying to get back on track).
Ovulation inhibitors: stress, inflammation, thyroid imbalance, being undernourished or underfed (are you eating enough? Are you too low on carb?), PCOS, taking the pill (more on why alternative health experts are calling the Pill chemical castration in part 2 of this series).
Magnesium - regulates cortisol, improves sleep, activates Vitamin D, slows aging,and fuels cellular energy, helps with period pain, pms, and PCOS. Sources of Magnesium: leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds, mineral water, and organic dark chocolate (fun fact! Chocolate cravings around the time of your period is actually your body saying “Give me magnesium!”
For more information on Magnesium check out: https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/magnesium-and-the-menstrual-cycle
Selenium - good for progesterone production (link pubmed). Sources of Selenium: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and seafood
Zinc - reduces inflammation, clears skin, regulates thyroid, blocks excess androgens, regulates stress response. Sources of Zinc: oysters and grass fed red meat (unfortunately, if you are vegan/vegetarian you are probably zinc deficient unless you are already supplementing)
Iodine - regulates thyroid, helps prevent cysts, reduces fibroids, increases progesterone, regulates heavy periods and pms. Sources of Iodine: seaweed, organic wild caught seafood, grass fed butter (but only if they are fed from nutrient dense soil), mushrooms and leafy greens.