Maria Claps, CHHC, FDN-P, Contributor
Maria shares her knowledge on what you need to know about ovulation and Hypothyroidism.
Ladies, do you ovulate? It’s an extremely important sign of body literacy.
Ovulation is a decisively important part of your menstrual cycle. If you don’t ovulate, you can become hormonally imbalanced which can lead to a whole host of additional health problems, because our hormone systems are a complex web of delicate relationships. Our hormones never exist in a vacuum and science is beginning to see a connection between thyroid health and ovulation.
Your period (which is a result of ovulation) is not just a monthly inconvenience. It is an indication of your underlying health. When you are healthy, your period will happen regularly, without problems, major symptoms of discomfort. In this way, your period is like a monthly accounting of your health.
Every month it talks to you and lets you know how you’re doing. That information is incredibly valuable and tuning it out is one of the worst things you can do for overall health and hormonal balance. Observing the clues your period gives and increasing body literacy is one of the most important health practices we can do as women over the course of our lives.
Sadly, many of us have been conditioned to tune out the subtle signs and turn off our intuition. We visit the doctor or tend to our problems that are obvious, but we shove our smaller, more “inconvenient or annoying” problems under the rug. This puts you out of touch with your body so, I like to remind women that when they take charge of their health, they are free to open a dialogue with their body and pay attention to its messages. There is so much wisdom to be gleaned from this process of listening to the messages that your body is sending you.
When it comes to menstrual cycle health, it’s all about the release of an egg from your ovary. That is called ovulation. You may understand that ovulation is important for women seeking to get pregnant. But ovulation is incredibly important for women who don’t want children either because it’s how women make hormones, estrogen and progesterone and it is the key event that leads up to us having a period.
Here are the steps in your monthly cycle:
1. You enter the follicular phase. This can last anywhere from 7-21 days. Day 1 of bleeding is day 1 of your follicular phase.
2. You ovulate, which lasts 1 day, and then…
3. You enter the luteal phase, which is 13-14 days after ovulation
These 3 events lead up to a healthy period that can last anywhere from 21-35 days. 28 days is the norm for most women.
But if you don’t ovulate, you don’t produce progesterone and lack of progesterone can make you feel anxious, have poor sleep and ultimately have too much estrogen. Progesterone is made in the corpus luteum which ONLY forms after ovulation has been completed. This is the main reason why ovulation is so important.
One of the most common inhibitors to ovulation is thyroid disease. A new study, published in the January 2015 Journal of Obstetrician and Gynaecologist noted the link between hypothyroidism and problems with ovulation.
An underactive thyroid can interfere with menstrual health in the following ways:
- It causes the pituitary gland to make too much prolactin, which suppresses ovulation
- It messes with insulin sensitivity which increases risk for PCOS
- It decreases energy in the ovaries, making them unable to carry out the momentous task of ovulation
How do you know if you’re ovulating?
Regular periods are usually a sign that you are ovulating, but the best way to know if you’ve ovulated is to check for the physical signs of ovulation. Irregular periods may mean that you ovulate occasionally or not at all.
You can have an anovulatory cycle (which means no ovulation) but you will still bleed. So in truth, having a period is NOT a definite sign of ovulation.
A great way to increase body literacy is to use a period app. Period apps allow you to chart your signs and it’s as close as our beloved cell phones!
- Fertile mucus-this is a unique type of vaginal discharge that looks and feels like raw egg white. Its clear, stretchy ahd slippery. Youll usually see it 2-3 days before you ovulate.
- Mittelschmerz is the official name for pain with ovulation. It’s usually a dull but noticeable pain on one side of the lower abdomen. It doesn’t last long but is a sign that the egg is bursting out of the follicle.
- A change in your basal body temperature (BBT) can be a sign of ovulation. You can measure your BBT by taking your temperature first thing in the morning, right after you wake up. After you finish ovulation, it rises slightly, here’s why: Your BBT changes throughout your cycle as fluctuations in hormone levels occur. During the first half of your cycle, estrogen dominates. During the second half of your cycle (once ovulation has occurred), there is a surge in progesterone. Progesterone increases your body temperature. Your BBT will reach its lowest point at ovulation and then rise immediately and dramatically (about a half a degree) as soon as ovulation occurs. This may take several months of charting to become familiar with it and can be tricky for those with hypothyroidism because of naturally lower body temperature. (BBT is also a great way to keep track of your thyroid health)
- Ovulation test strips- these work by detecting and measuring luteinizing hormone (LH). This is the hormone that causes your body to release the egg each month, also known as ovulation. Your body produces a small amount of LH during your cycle, but your body produces a much higher amount halfway through your cycle. A positive results means you will ovulate in the next three days.
“I believe that you can be trusted with your own health when given evidence-based options, in a supportive environment, by a caring practitioner” ~Maria Claps
Maria Claps is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and is trained in the Gottfried Protocol for helping women balance their hormones. She coaches clients in her central NJ office and all over the country. She’s also a mom to four grown children. Please check out Nourish & Flourish with Maria at her website, NourishandFlourishHealth.com. Let her knowledge of health, nutrition and hormones help you by making a personal consult appointment with her, HERE. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and tune-in to her wonderful scopes on Periscope.