Ovulation occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, and can overlap the follicular and luteal phases. It begins when an egg is released from the follicle and exits one of the ovaries and into the fallopian tube. Some menstruators can actually feel this happening with a slight pain known as 'Mittelschmerz' ( German for 'middle pain'). The release of the egg is triggered by a sharp rise in estrogen and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) a day or two prior to ovulation. The process of ovulation occurs over 12-48 hours. This is the most fertile time of the cycle where pregnancy is most likely, beginning from 5 days prior to ovulation to one day after.
As mentioned, some individuals may feel pain with ovulation, either as a sharp twinge or a dull ache on one side of the body. Body temperature also spikes during ovulation and some people may experience night sweats. In fact, tracking basal body temperature is one way many people who are trying to conceive can estimate ovulation. Vaginal lubrication and libido also increases at this time.
However, it is possible to have a cycle without ovulation, known as an anovulatory cycle. Anovulatory cycles are more common around puberty and menopause, when hormone levels may not be sufficient to trigger proper ovulation. Other factors such as stress, over exercising, extreme weight gain or loss, and diet may also contribute to anovulation and missed or absent periods (amenorrhea).
Some people may find that the high estrogen that occurs with ovulation may contribute to emotional lability, or mood swings. One may be quick to tears or slightly more irritable than usual.
Studies have shown that we are most attractive and our self-esteem and confidence are highest when our estrogen levels are also high. This is a good time to socialize (especially if you're dating!) and to make decisions and speak up for yourself (perhaps at work). You may also be feeling quite sensual, so you may choose to exercise in ways that make you feel rhythmic or sensual, such as dance or vinyasa-style yoga.
You can sign up to receive a FREE yoga class for your Ovulatory Phase (along with a class for each phase of the cycle + a guided meditation) by clicking HERE!