The menstrual cycle comprises four phases; the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase, and luteal phase. The nutritional requirements of the female body change considerably and drastically over a month-long cycle. Ovulation means you’re most fertile, and the body is seeking as many B vitamin-rich foods as you can provide. These B vitamins encourage and support the healthy release of the egg. Unfortunately, ovulation is also when you’re most vulnerable to mid-cycle pain, breakouts, mood swings, and even bloating. And there are foods to help with that, too.
Foods aren’t the only thing you should worry about during your ovulation. You must know how to track your ovulation, signs of bad menstrual health, risk factors, and ways to deal with these issues. Ovulation is a natural phenomenon occurring in a female body to ensure the highest possible chances of conceiving a child. Therefore, you must look after yourself and get the best diet. Most importantly, listening to what your body needs and is craving helps you navigate throughout your cycle.
Ovulation: An Introduction
The female reproductive system consists of a pair of ovaries, fallopian tubes, a uterus, a cervix, and a vagina. This system is responsible for producing, maintaining, and releasing a mature ovum or female egg. The ovum (female gametocyte) is a reproductive cell of the female body that plays a crucial role in pregnancy.
The process of ovulation is a reproductive process that governs a female’s fertility. Studies reveal that ovulation occurs most commonly on every 15th day of a menstrual cycle. In a normal menstrual cycle, ovulation is the third phase, after the shedding of blood lining in the menstrual phase. After that, the female reproductive system undergoes the follicular phase. Once the endometrium lining gets prepared with newly formed blood vessels and capillaries, the ovulation process commences. It is the shortest phase and typically lasts between 1-2 days. During ovulation mature ovum is released and allowed to remain in the fallopian tube for fertilisation. After 24 hours duration, the ovum slides down into the uterus.
After the start of ovulation, the levels of oestrogen decrease, and that of progesterone increases. Many studies marked the signs of mood swings in ovulating females due to these changes in hormonal levels. For example, some may feel irritated, angry, anxious, or depressed due to decreased oestrogen secretion. Therefore, it becomes necessary to look after your body during the ovulatory phase. Tracking your ovulation and maintaining a proper diet will lessen the signs of mood outbursts.
Foods to Eat During Ovulation
Since ovulation is an essential process of your reproductive cycle, eating healthy during this period becomes necessary. The ovulatory phase of a woman determines her chances of fertility and pregnancy.
Therefore, eating foods that will help promote the release of mature ovum will be more fruitful. Below is a list of appropriate foods for days when you are ovulating.
Full-Fat Milk and Milk Products
Full-fat milk and dairy products increase the menstrual cycle frequency. Thus, in women with irregular ovulation, the consumption of full-fat milk is essentially beneficial. However, on the contrary, studies reveal that low-fat milk products do the opposite because the absence of cream in low-fat milk causes hormonal disturbances in the body, leading to poor ovulation.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are vegan sources of protein. They also contain surplus amounts of fibre and folic acid. Thus, these food items help in increasing the chances of ovulation regularly. Moreover, plant-based protein is more beneficial to the body than animal-based during ovulation.
Fruits Rich in Vitamin C
Citrus fruits aren’t merely rich in vitamin C. They also contain a bulk of other essential nutrients. For example, citrus fruits are a rich source of folate, calcium, and vitamin B. All of these nutrients are known to promote the process of ovulation and maintain it thoroughly. Therefore, consuming citrus fruits like lemon is an effective method to regulate ovulation.
Tomatoes in cooked form rather than raw ones increase fertility in males and females. It is because tomatoes have an active constituent known as ‘lycopene’. This component is responsible for the prevention of endometriosis formation. This way, the chances of abnormal ovulation are reduced, and the fertility rate increases.
Cinnamon has got more uses than merely being a spice. This spice is responsible for releasing hormones that promote the ovulation process. In addition, it is anti-inflammatory and reduces any pain or soreness related to ovulation.
Avocados are rich in vitamin E and C. Also, research shows that avocados contain essential nutrients like potassium, folic acid, antioxidants, and fibre. These nutrients are suitable for all ovulating women and those who wish to conceive. In addition, avocados help regulate the menstrual cycle and control hormonal imbalances during ovulation.
It would be best if you had a periodic and consistent ovulating cycle to increase the chances of fertility and improve the menstrual cycle patterns. Therefore, your body needs sufficient amounts of folic acid, monounsaturated fats, carbs, and potassium. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of the same. Thus, consuming sunflower seeds will help you have a consistent ovulatory phase in the long run.
Quinoa is more prevalent among diabetic and obese people. This whole grain is rich in complex carbs and folate. In ovulating women, repeated desire to eat carbs is common. Therefore, to curb the urge to eat something frequently, you can eat quinoa. It will make you feel full for longer durations. Moreover, the folate in quinoa helps to enhance the ovulatory phase.
Greek yoghurt is a part of many dishes that promote weight loss. Regarding maintaining an ovulation cycle, greek yoghurt is suitable as well. Greek yoghurt contains all the required nutrients to keep a constant ovulation cycle. It contains folate, calciferol, calcium, and probiotics. Thus, greek yoghurt essentially increases the chances of a normal ovulating process in females.
Recent studies show that freshly cooked salmon is suitable for women who wish for regular ovulation. Salmon is rich in fats, proteins, and omega-3-fatty acids. All these nutrients are crucial to increasing the chances of ovulation in females. However, pick the salmon with the least amount of mercury to avoid food poisoning.
Asparagus is a repository of vitamins A, B, C, and K. Along with these vitamins, asparagus is also rich in zinc, selenium, and folate. Thus, asparagus consumption daily will help you raise your chances of maintaining a stable ovulatory period across the month.
Pomegranate has a positive effect on promoting chances of conceiving. Thus, consuming fruits like pomegranate daily in your snack or morning breakfast during ovulation would be good. If you know how to track your ovulation, consuming pomegranate before your ovulation cycle is better. Moreover, switching to something healthy is always more beneficial than relying on junk food. Pomegranate is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, which help prepare the uterus for the next ovulation.
Walnuts are a prime source of omega-3-fatty acids and are known to promote frequent ovulation cycles. Also, they are impactful in improving sperm viability and sperm count in males.
Foods to Avoid During Ovulatory Phase
Ovulation is the phase when you are most fertile, so if you are looking to get pregnant during this time, there are certain foods you must avoid. In the long run, avoiding these foods helps maintain good reproductive life and promotes good health conditions.
Junk food and fried items contain saturated fat, and you must avoid or limit them in all situations. Studies show that women who had more frequent interactions with junk food experience irregular menstrual cycles. In addition, processed foods invite poor reproductive life and poor overall health. Therefore, minimising fast food consumption improves ovulation and reduces the time for getting pregnant.
Coffee or caffeine in all forms drastically affects ovulation. However, caffeine intake below 200 milligrams a day does not affect ovulation. Therefore, try to limit yourselves to less than 200 mg of caffeine per day. Or drink no more than a cup of coffee when you’re ovulating.
Alcohol is the first thing you would want to quit in cases of irregular ovulation. It is a factor that distorts the average hormonal balance in your body and primarily affects your liver and uterus. In addition, most women are unaware that drinking even moderately in the middle and the latter half of the menstrual cycle may reduce the odds of successful ovulation.
Regular alcohol consumption causes a surge in estradiol, a form of oestrogen. It can result in irregular cycles, delayed ovulation, or anovulation. In addition, this spike in estradiol might affect the chances of conception.
How to Track Your Ovulation?
Ovulation tracking is simple to do, and it is also helpful for family planning. The easiest way to calculate your ovulating day is to subtract 14 days from the end of your current menstrual cycle. It will roughly provide you with when you will be ovulating next. Therefore, you need to record how long your menstrual cycle lasts.
However, this method might not always be correct. Thus, other alternative strategies can work effectively well. One such method is the use of ovulation tracking kits. These kits work the same way a pregnancy test kit would do. You will have to place your urine sample on the apparatus, and it will detect the levels of LH and FSH hormone in it. As there is an upsurge of LH and FSH during ovulation, this kit will notice the same. Therefore, letting you know your exact day of ovulation. This kit is helpful to all women who wish to conceive.
Other ways to track ovulation would be to notice the changes in your body due to ovulation. These changes include sore breasts, increased sexual desire, slightly watery vaginal discharge, and mild abdominal pain. However, these methods might not work for women with PCOS/PCOD or irregular menses.
An irregular menstrual cycle indicates an abnormal ovulatory phase. In such cases, one can notice the physical changes in the nature and texture of their cervical mucus to determine the ovulatory stage. There is an increased secretion of mucus during ovulation, which is a noticeable sign in determining the ovulatory phase.
Ovulation is an essential phenomenon occurring in all women. This phase is responsible for the fertility of women. Therefore, it is necessary to take extra care of your body during ovulation. Eating foods rich in fibre and protein will help improve the ovulatory phase in women. Opt for small quantities of carbohydrates and try to eat whole grains, fish, salads, beans, pulses, full-fat milk, salmon, and fruits rich in vitamin C. Also, avoid any kinds of junk foods. This way, you can improve your chances of fertility. As with everything, listen closely to what your body needs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How do you tell if you are ovulating?
A. Ovulating phase showcases distinct signs and symptoms in some women. These signs include a wet cervical layer, mood changes, tender breasts, slight abdominal cramps, and some may observe a little white discharge.
Q. What happens when a woman is ovulating?
A. During ovulation, the ovaries release a single mature egg. This egg then travels its way down to the fallopian tube and stays there so that it can get fertilised. Ovulating women also experience mood swings and other hormonal fluctuations.
Q. Does ovulation mean pregnant?
A. No, ovulation doesn’t mean being pregnant. Ovulation is the process of releasing female gametes from the ovaries every single month. However, if fertilisation of the egg occurs, the woman is said to be pregnant.
Q. How many days after the period is ovulation?
A. Ovulation usually occurs between day 11 and day 21 of the menstrual cycle, counting from the first day of the last period. Or you can say the ovulation phase occurs nearly 12-14 days before the start of the next menstrual cycle. During this phase, a woman is susceptible to pregnancy as it is the most fertile time of the month.
Q. Can you get pregnant during your period?
A. There are chances of getting pregnant during the menstrual cycle because the human sperm can survive for five days in a woman’s body even after coitus. Therefore, there is a likelihood that you can get pregnant while on your period.
Q. Can I get pregnant after ovulation?
A. Yes, you can. After releasing a mature female gamete, the chances of conceiving are high. The following 24 hours are the most fertile time for a female to conceive a baby.
Q. Can you get pregnant two days after ovulation?
A. There are high chances of getting pregnant starting from 2 days before ovulation. Sperm lives for five days in the female uterus without being harmed. Therefore, there is a buffer period of 2 days before ovulation and two days after ovulation to conceive.
Q. Can ovulation happen during periods?
A. No, ovulation can’t happen midway during periods. Periods or menstruation occur during the first day and last till the 5th day of the menstrual cycle. Then, on the 14th day, ovulation happens.
Q. How many hours does ovulation last?
A. Ovulation lasts for 24-48 hours. After this duration, the egg isn’t feasible for fertilisation. So, for example, if ovulation occurs on the 14th day, the luteal phase most likely begins on the 15th day.
Q. What causes miscarriage?
A. Several reasons lead to miscarriage. For example, altered blood pressure and sugar levels in the mother, PCOS/PCOD, chromosomal abnormalities, nutrient deficiency, and bad lifestyle habits (ex: smoking, drinking, etc.) can lead to the potential risk of miscarriage.