Although many people experience ovulation a few times a year without even noticing it, this window of fertility does affect the body in some peculiar ways. Seriously, some of the things that happen to your body when you're ovulating are pretty surprising. From your skin to your sense of smell, this part of the monthly cycle has some wild effects.
First, though, it's helpful to learn a little more about ovulation. "Ovulation is the process in which a mature egg is released from the ovary," explained Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic. "Those six days are important because the egg is able to be fertilized for about 12 to 24 hours after it's released." Ovulation generally occurs about 14 days prior to the start of a menstrual cycle, although many people do not line up exactly with a 28-day cycle, as Dr. Tobah further explained. In other words, ovulation is the window of time in which a human female can get pregnant. If you aren't on a hormonal birth control, then monitoring signs of ovulation is one way to help track fertility. Read on to learn more about the interesting (and sometimes kind of weird) ways ovulation affects the body. It's just another fascinating way ovulation changes the body.
1. Your Skin Gets More Red
Ovulation can affect skin tone, but there's a good reason why you've likely never noticed these changes. "This study shows that human female skin redness varies over the cycle but that this variation is not perceptible by the human visual system," according to a study in PLOS ONE. In other words, a female's face does get a bit redder during ovulation, but the human eye can't detect these changes. It's a sneaky way of noting ovulation.
2. Your Abdominal Muscles Cramp
Although you may associate abdominal cramps with your period, they can also make an appearance during ovulation. "Mittelschmerz is one-sided, lower abdominal pain associated with ovulation," according to the Mayo Clinic. "German for 'middle pain,' mittelschmerz occurs midway through a menstrual cycle — about 14 days before your next menstrual period." It's typically a minor discomfort that does not require medical intervention.
3. Your Body Gets Warmer
Ovulation can make you feel hot in a literal way. "Your body temperature dips a bit just before your ovary releases an egg. Then, 24 hours after the egg's release, your temperature rises and stays up for several days," according to Michigan Medicine from the University of Michigan. In fact, monitoring your basal body temperature is one way to help track fertility, according to Romper. When there's a little rise in your temp, it's likely ovulation time.
4. Your Breasts Become Sore Or Sensitive
Sensitive or even painful breasts are a frequent issue. "The most common type of breast pain is associated with the menstrual cycle and is nearly always hormonal," according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Some women begin to have pain around the time of ovulation which continues until the beginning of their menstrual cycle." If your mid-cycle breast pain is concerning, then don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor for help.
5. You Breathe More Easily
For people who have asthma, ovulation time may offer a bit of relief. In general, a person's menstrual cycle appears to affect asthmatic symptoms, potentially improving them around the time of ovulation, according to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. "This research is really interesting, and could help women with asthma to manage their condition better," said Dr. Samantha Walker, of Asthma UK, in the BBC.
6. Your Cervical Mucus Changes
It might sound a bit weird, but even the texture of your mucus changes throughout the month. In general, a person will have "abundant, clear and wet secretions" of cervical mucus around the time of ovulation, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, you can even monitor changes in cervical mucus as a form of fertility tracking, as explained in Romper.
7. Your Sense Of Smell Improves
Ovulation is a great time to (literally) stop and smell the roses. People may experience a "greater olfactory sensitivity" (AKA improved sense of smell) during ovulation, according to a study in Physiology & Behavior. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the smells around you at this time.
8. Your Cervix Softens
The physical changes may be most obvious in this particular part of the anatomy. In general, the cervix becomes "higher, softer and more open" during ovulation, according to The Bump. You can do a self-exam for cervical changes during ovulation with a finger, or your doctor can examine it with a speculum, as further explained in The Bump.
9. Your Voice Takes A Higher Pitch
Even your voice may change a bit during ovulation. Although the effect may not turn you into a soprano, people's voices do tend to take on a higher pitch during the time of ovulation, as a study in PLoS One determined.