Your power is in your cyclicality. Your true Beauty beats in your differences day to day. And if you are a menstruating human, you are greatly different from week to week. Both science and Spirit are on your side, bringing you through a purposeful and mystical journey of hormonal and emotional fluctuations each month. This is the divine design of Mother Nature. New life does not just arrive from the sky, but manifests through this process of sacred Creation within a menstruating human each month. Much of it is beyond our control. But much of it is within our control, as we can listen sharply to the symptoms arising and respond sweetly by making lifestyle adjustments.
In this cycle series, we are going to be going over each phase of the menstrual cycle (there are 4 in total) ~ diving into the energetics of each phase, the science of each phase, and nutritional + self-care tips for each phase. Up today is ::
The Ovulation Phase
Corresponding with the Summer Season + Full Moon
Archetype :: The Mother
Science of the Ovulation Phase ↣
Ovulation is all about the release of an egg from the ovaries, and it is the only few days a month when pregnancy is possible. Contrary to the assumed belief that pregnancy can happen anytime of the month, there are really only 3 to 5 days when pregnancy can implant, and that is during the Ovulation phase.
Eggs live within ovarian sacs called follicles, and the moment of Ovulation is the moment that an egg frees itself from the follicle and flings itself into the fallopian tube. Fun fact: the ovaries and fallopian tube are not actually connected, so the egg finds itself in the tube via transport of peritoneal fluid, which is produced at the opening of the fallopian tubes. Which ovary and fallopian tube (i.e. right or left) that the egg comes from typically alternates from month to month. It is a subtle sensation, so if you are tuned into your day of Ovulation, you may actually be able to feel which side the egg is released from.
Ovulation happens roughly 13 to 15 days before the onset of bleeding. Follicles develop for several months (yes, months!) before they are ready to release their egg so at any given time, there are various stages of either mature or immature follicles within the ovaries. These follicles undergo huge developments leading up to Ovulation. They also compete to become the dominant, fertile egg carrying follicle, so most never actually reach Ovulation but die off at different phases of development (this happens about mid-way through the Follicular Phase).
When a follicle is finally ready, it springs its egg into the fallopian tube. The egg then has about 12 to 24 hours to become fertilized by sperm to initiate pregnancy. If the egg doesn’t become fertilized, it begins to degrade. If it is fertilized, it will travel over 6 to 12 days down into the uterus to implant in the uterine wall. Sperm can live in the vagina for up to 5 days, so even though the egg only has 24 hours to become fertilized, the entire few days of onset Ovulation signs are key to understanding, especially for those not opting for invasive birth control (this kind of pregnancy prevention is called Natural Family Planning or NFP).
Our hormones are what tell our reproductive system to journey through these cycles week to week, and during the Ovulation phase, potent hormonal shifts are spiking. In this phase, follicles are developed and Ovulation is onset by the HPA Axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis). As we learned in the Follicular Phase, the HPA Axis tells the brains to continuously produce FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) all throughout the menstrual cycle. And just as you would presume from its name, FSH stimulates follicles to mature. As follicles mature, they produce estrogen, which spikes just before Ovulation to trigger the egg to be released. The brain then begins producing LH (luteinizing hormone), triggering the moment of Ovulation. This is called the LH surge, which happens roughly 10 to 24 hours before the egg is actually released from the follicle. The follicle then uses ovarian enzymes to disintegrate on its own.
Optimal Ovulation fosters fertility. Without a optimal Ovulation, pregnancy cannot occur. This phase is definitely one to pay close attention to whether you are trying to get pregnant or not. To become intimate with your signs of Ovulation and to tailor your health + lifestyle to optimal Ovulation is incredibly empowering. Again, look into NFP if this peaks your interest! And don't be put off by the excess fluid your feel or see during these days! Cervical mucus during Ovulation will be soft, juicy, and have the texture of egg white. The day you have the most egg-white-y mucus is a clear indication that Ovulation is occurring or has just occurred.
It is not uncommon to have irregular Ovulation in the first year of menstruation, post-pregnancy or while breastfeeding, as well as for the years approaching menopause. Irregular Ovulation during any other time is definitely something to be watch for and talk with your doctor about if you’re concerned. Even if you’re not trying to conceive any time soon (if ever) the journey of Ovulation is tremendously vital for overall health + wellbeing. The much-needed levels of estrogen and progesterone, in particular, impact bone density, metabolism, sleep quality, heart health, mental health, and more.
If you want to become intimate with your days or exact moment of Ovulation, you can track your basal body temperature first thing each morning, watch for changes in your cervical mucus, as well as take Ovulation tests from the drug store or your doc.
Energetics of the Ovulation Phase ↣
We are the fully open, fragrant flower. Life is flocking to us, desperate for our nectar. We are dripping in the vital information for the furthering of Life. We are a flourishing, radiating saturation of Beauty. We embody the Beauty we seek. We are the warmth of the Summer and the guidance of the brightest Moon. As the contra-force to Menstruation, Ovulation is the celebration and illumination, the ripeness and the creativity of the Full Moon. This is the time when we may find ourselves in our most energetic, expressive spirit. We are ready and willing to put ourselves out there and connect. Our hormones are supporting us in feeling communal, productive, and creative. We are overflowing with passion in ways we definitely aren’t during Menstruation, and we have the energy to see new ideas through. We can stay up later, wake up earlier, and spend ample time with those we love. We have more bandwidth during Ovulation to hold space for those who need our ear, hand, heart, or service without feeling like our own energy is being drained. It is of course wise to not over-commit ourselves during this phase, because that too will create major drainage. But in moderation, this is our time to get on out there. This is our time to shine.
As Nature’s divine design, you will likely find your sexual desire to peak during Ovulation. As this is the time for pregnancy, our hormones are naturally supporting us in going out and making it happen. If you are not trying to get pregnant, take care of yourself by carrying an awareness of when and how it is best for you to expend your sexual energy. And if you don’t have a beloved or don’t wish to expend this energy through the actual act of sex, it can be channeled elsewhere as potent creativity into many other areas of your life. Just keep the energy blooming.
Ovulation is when we are most supported to initiate new projects. The fertility in our ovaries is mirroring a fertility in our lives. As within, so without. Estrogen and testosterone are stimulating left-hemisphere activity (whereas Menstruation is stimulating right-hemisphere activity) which arouses verbal fluency, visual-spacial ability, logic, practicality, and confidence. No matter which gender we identify as, our spirit’s hold a balance of the energetic imprints of both the divine masculine and the divine feminine. And though Ovulation is the quintessential story of feminine fertility, it also brings about the practical qualities of the divine masculine in our lives. Strength, stamina, discipline and direction are all more accessible to us during Ovulation than, say, during Menstruation. Again, we are the fully blossomed flower ~ deeply rooted, open and confident.
Nutrition for the Ovulation Phase ↣
We have the most natural energy during Ovulation, so be sure not to over-do caffeine or other stimulants, as you can easily be sent overboard. Also go easy on the carbs during this phase, but load up on veggies and light proteins to help the liver detoxify any excess estrogen (remember, estrogen is spiking now). Go for plenty of carrot, beet, celery, asparagus, brussel sprouts, eggplant, tomato, zucchini, and cucumber. We also want to load up on healthy fats and antioxidants these days to nourish the ovaries and keep everything juicy. Eggs (choose pastured and local if you’re able) are so optimal for the health of our own eggs! Keep up with the ferments and sprouted nuts + seeds as you did in the Follicular Phase. And also as in the Follicular Phase, focus on lighter cooking methods and salads. Social-inclination at this time may also inspire you to schedule meals out (or host in your own home) with loved ones or for business meetings.
An Herbal Infusion for the Ovulation Phase ↣
- Boil water ~ Pour water over the herbs in a Mason jar ~ Let sit out on the counter for 4-6 hours or overnight ~ Strain + enjoy instead of or alongside water all throughout the day!
Shine bright, wombyn.
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Time to shine… I like that :)