The menstrual phase tries to keep all the shine for being the most uncomfortable and ever-present stage in the menstrual cycle, but the truth is that for some, the ovulatory phase comes in as a close second.
Each stage of the menstrual cycle — luteal, follicular, menstrual, and ovulatory — brings its own unique hormonal changes and physical symptoms. For instance, the menstrual phase is the most well-known for cramping, bloating, and PMS, which can be triggered specifically by ‘that time of the month.’
The follicular and luteal phases bookend both the menstrual and ovulatory phases. And ovulation takes the lead with surprising symptoms that pop up smack in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
The ovulatory phase begins with a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. During ovulation, your body releases an egg to be fertilized, and immediately following ovulation is when progesterone levels begin to increase. This surge in hormones can trigger both physical and emotional symptoms. Tracking your hormones during this time with an at-home fertility lab like Mira can help you better understand each phase of your menstrual cycle and may even help you conceive if that's your ultimate goal.
Ovulation Signs & Symptoms
Below are some common (and less common) ovulation symptoms to look out for.
More noticeable bloating
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In case you’re one of the lucky ones who has never experienced it: Bloating is an abdominal pressure that can be uncomfortable, painful, and present at different times throughout the menstrual cycle. In less clinical terms, bloating is the ovulation symptom that’s to thank for having a “loose clothes only” rule in the middle of your menstrual cycle. While bloating is usually described as a top-period symptom, many women experience bloating during ovulation because of how intensely their hormones fluctuate during this time.
Pelvic pain or discomfort
Ovulation pain, also known as mittelschmerz, is abdominal or pelvic discomfort experienced by some women during ovulation. It typically occurs around the middle of the menstrual cycle, on one side of the lower abdomen or pelvis. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp twinge and may last from a few minutes to a day or two. The exact cause is not fully understood, but it may result from the rupture of the ovarian follicle or irritation of the surrounding tissues. Ovulation pain is generally harmless and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers or heat therapy. If the pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.
Feeling more emotional
Your hormones aren’t the only ones on a roller coaster during your ovulation window; your feelings are, too. Just like during the menstrual period, the onslaught of hormone changes — a surge in estrogen before ovulation and a rise in progesterone afterward — in such a short window of time during ovulation (usually about 12-24 hours of active ovulation) can lead to some to feel more emotional or sensitive than they normally would.
Changes in cervical mucus
According to the American Pregnancy Association, a clear indication that you’re in your ovulatory phase will be the consistency of your vaginal discharge. During ovulation, your discharge will be heavier, more noticeable on your underwear, and have an “egg white” consistency. The increase in cervical mucus is your body’s way of helping sperm and egg come together with more ease.
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Shifts in basal body temperature
Basal body temperature is your resting temperature and can be taken with a special basal thermometer. Your BBT is consistently the same temperature throughout most of your cycle and only changes (drops slightly) ahead of ovulation. Once ovulation has occurred, your BBT will increase again, this time more significantly.
Other signs and symptoms of ovulation include breast tenderness or sensitivity similar to what some may experience during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), increased sex drive, and even light spotting. Because, for some, these ovulation symptoms can so closely mimic period symptoms, trying to pinpoint ovulation can be difficult, especially if you suffer from irregular menstrual cycles.
If you’re looking for an easier way of measuring your hormone levels in real time, that’s where Mira comes in. Just download the Mira app to watch all of your hormonal ups and downs on a chart on your smartphone. You can check your daily numbers in real-time, and predict and confirm ovulation to determine your 6-day fertile window, ending the guesswork once and for all. Use code RESCRIPTED to get $40 off the Mira Starter Kit and all bundles!
Vivian Nunez is a writer, content creator, and Happy To Be Here podcast host. Her award-winning Instagram community has created pathways for speaking on traditionally taboo topics, like mental health and grief. You can find Vivian @vivnunez on Instagram/TikTok and her writing on Medium and her blog, vivnunez.com.