Know Your Fertility

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A Woman’s Cycle of Fertility

on March 6, 2013

Female reproductive system

That mysterious and beautiful thing that we call our cycle of fertility begins in our brain. The pituitary starts the whole process by producing follicle-stimulating hormone, whose function is – you guessed it – stimulating follicles.  FSH travels through the bloodstream to the ovaries, where it causes a few (about 16) of the many tiny follicles there to begin ripening, or maturing.

A follicle is a ring of cells with a tiny, unripe egg, called an ovum, inside. Each ovary contains about 200,000 tiny follicles, barely visible without a microscope. As those few follicles ripen, they produce another hormone – estrogen.

Estrogen causes the cervix, (the opening of the uterus) to go through some changes.  It gets softer, opens slightly, and moves higher up the vaginal canal. Under the influence of estrogen, the cervix also begins producing fertile type mucus.

For most of us there is enough of that mucus that it flows down the vagina and we see or feel it outside the vaginal opening between our legs. Without knowing our signs of fertility, we could mistake the cervical mucus for perspiration or an infection!

Estrogen also causes the endometrium, (the lining of the uterus), to become thick, soft and spongy, forming a kind of bed that could hold and nourish a baby. Finally, estrogen signals the pituitary gland in the brain that some follicles have matured in the ovaries.

Feelings: During this wet, fertile time in our cycle, when the follicles are ripening and the cervix is making mucus,  we may feel self confident, out-going, creative, and full of energy. We may also feel less need to sleep, since adrenaline – that chemical which causes excitement, is also high at this time. This is our power time. It’s time to start new projects,  finish up the old ones. Like Mother Earth in her rainy season, we are full of potential. We may feel courageous, loving, and interested in sexual activity. Estrogen is getting us ready to have a baby, even if we do not want to have one!

So, to help stay on track, keep a fertility chart!  Charting our cycle, with its signs and signals, helps us stay aware of the waxing and waning of energy and sexual desire. It lets us harness the energy of our hormones to power our own goals—What do I want to create this cycle?—rather than allowing them to push us into places we really do not want to go.

Ovulation: When the pituitary gland receives the message that some follicles have matured in the ovaries, it produces another hormone, called leutenizing hormone, or LH. LH causes one of those ripening follicles to release its ovum into a fallopian tube – ovulation!  The ovum is moved along the fallopian tube by the cilia, tiny hairs that line the fallopian tubes. If the ovum is not fertilized by male sperm within 12 to 24 hours, it disintegrates and is reabsorbed by the body.

After ovulation, the empty follicle, which we now call the corpus luteum, lives for about two weeks, all the while making yet another hormone – progesterone. Progesterone thickens the fertile-type mucus in the cervix, creating a plug to keep germs out of the uterus in case of a pregnancy. Because the mucus is now thick , it no longer makes its way down the vagina to the outside of the body. Therefore we no longer notice any slippery wetness outside the vaginal opening.

Progesterone also causes our resting temperature to go up about 4/10 of a degree Fahrenheit or 2/10 of a degree Centigrade. Finally, progesterone prevents the pituitary in the brain from sending any more hormonal messages to begin another cycle. Progesterone continues to delay the beginning of another cycle for about two weeks, after which time the empty follicle dies.

More Feelings: After ovulation, under the influence of progesterone, we may feel somewhat deflated compared to our wet, fertile time. Like Mother Earth in her dry time, we may feel quiet and less energetic.

Menstruation: When the empty follicle dies and pregnancy has not occurred, there’s nothing left to make that progesterone that was growing the uterine lining. So the lining of the uterus is shed with menstruation.  The bloody menstrual flow contains the tissue and nutrients that would have held and nourished a baby if conception had taken place.

Even More Feelings: When menstrual bleeding begins, both estrogen and progesterone are at low levels. We may feel sensitive, solitary, or inward. “How did I spend my creative energy this cycle?

As soon as the lining of the uterus is shed with menstruation, another lining begins to grow. That is the nature of a cycle. One ends. Another begins. 

By understanding and following the natural inward and outward energies of our cycle, we develop a compassionate relationship with ourselves.

Blessings, Marie

http://knowyourfertility.net/


One Response to “A Woman’s Cycle of Fertility”

  1. Amanda says:

    comment test 🙂

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