The Connection Between Ovulation and Mental Well-Being: What You Need to Know

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The Connection Between Ovulation and Mental Well-Being: What You Need to Know!

Do you ever wonder why some days are just “meh”? Your mood may ebb and flow, but other days you’re feeling on top of the world. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who has regular “bad days” or experiences “blah” periods of your cycle. You might be wondering, “Why am I feeling so differently all the time?” If you’ve ever experienced the ups and downs of your cycle, then you’re not alone.

Your menstrual cycle is a natural process that fluctuates throughout your 28-day cycle. Each cycle is made up of a series of three phases, or “weeks.” The first phase of your cycle, called the follicular phase, lasts two to seven days. The second phase of your cycle, the ovulatory phase, lasts from 12 to 36 hours. The third and final phase, the luteal phase, lasts from 12 to 26 days. The timing of ovulation and how your body reacts to it can make a big difference in how you feel.

What is Ovulation?

Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary. The egg is released at the time of highest levels of the hormone estrogen. Hormonal fluctuations during the two weeks leading up to ovulation can make you feel emotional, especially around the time of your ovulation.

The day of ovulation is referred to as “Day 14” in your cycle. 

Typically, you will experience the highest levels of estrogen on Days 12 through 16 of your cycle. You are most likely to be fertile during this time, which means you can get pregnant if you have unprotected intercourse. Some women don’t realize they are ovulating because they don’t notice any signs or symptoms.

The average woman’s menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but every woman is different and her cycle may last anywhere from 21 to 35 days.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation?

There isn’t one clear sign that tells you when you are ovulating. Many women who have been tracking their cycles for a while know that the day before they ovulate, their basal body temperature will rise a few tenths of a degree above its previous level — this is called a positive temperature shift . This increase in temperature is not enough to be measured with a regular thermometer.

In fact, the increase can only be measured accurately with a special ovulation-prediction device or an ovulation-prediction kit. If you have been tracking your basal body temperature and have seen this shift in temperature, you can predict that you are about to ovulate.

Another sign that you may notice is an increase in vaginal discharge . This can range from clear and stretchy to thick and white or yellowish. The increase in discharge is most noticeable between Days 12 and 16 of your cycle.

There are also several signs that you might not notice until after your menstrual period starts:

Slight cramping on the side of the abdomen where the ovary releases an egg (usually around Day 14). This usually feels like a dull ache or twinge, but occasionally it may feel like more severe cramping. Some women do experience pain during ovulation, but it’s typically not severe enough to disrupt daily activity.

The increase in discharge mentioned above can either be an increase in the amount of discharge or a change in its consistency.

The cervix will start to become more sensitive to touch.

Your basal body temperature will drop slightly and remain lower until the next time you ovulate.

It’s important to remember that all of these signs are fairly subtle, and you may not notice them at all – especially if you just recently started tracking your ovulation cycle. The best way to tell when you are about to ovulate is by charting your basal body temperature.

The Link Between Ovulation and Mental Well-Being

There is a strong connection between ovulation and mental well-being. A 2004 study looked at the relationship between mood and the menstrual cycle and found that women who were depressed tended to have lower levels of estrogen around the time of ovulation compared to women who were not depressed. The lower levels of estrogen during this period may be what’s behind the low mood experienced by some women during this time.

Another study from 2006 found that women who were stressed tended to have a lower level of progesterone, which is another hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle.

In both studies, the researchers also found that women with depression and/or stress had more problems conceiving than women without these issues. The authors of the studies suggest that it may be because low levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause irregular ovulation, especially when combined with stress.

What Researchers Know About Ovulation and Depression

In a 2007 study, researchers found that depressed women had significantly lower levels of the hormone cortisol around the time of ovulation compared to non depressed women. Cortisol is known to increase when levels are low, which may contribute to feelings of depression.

The researchers also found that women who were more anxious in general had lower levels of cortisol.

What Researchers Know About Ovulation and Anxiety

In a 2006 study, researchers discovered that women who were more sensitive to stress tended to have lower levels of progesterone around the time of ovulation. Progesterone typically increases during this period, but it did not in these women.

Another study published the same year found that women with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) had increased symptoms during their premenstrual period compared to their cycle's other days. Interestingly, these symptoms decreased once the women started taking anti-anxiety medication.

Studies have also shown that certain psychological treatments can help reduce premenstrual symptoms and PMS. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be particularly effective for addressing mood changes and physical symptoms related to PMS, such as bloating and pain. CBT teaches you how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones, which can help reduce symptoms.

In a 2014 study, researchers found that a form of psychotherapy called interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) was helpful in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a severe form of PMS that involves depression-like symptoms and irritability. The women who received IPT were less depressed and had lower levels of anxiety than those who received standard care.

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Susan Rako, said the treatment may be particularly helpful for those with anxiety disorders: "This is the first study to show that IPT can improve mood and decrease anxiety in women with PMDD".

How to Boost Your Mood When You’re Feeling Blue

One way to get your mood back on track and boost your levels of serotonin and endorphins is to engage in an activity you enjoy. A 2003 study found that spending time in nature can help boost your mood and induce a state of well-being.

Gardening, housekeeping, walking your dog or petting a cat have all been associated with a mood boost. Gardening in particular has been proven to induce feelings of joy and well-being due to the release of endorphins and the sense of accomplishment that comes with seeing your efforts come to fruition.

The Journal of Environmental Psychology concluded that spending time in natural settings can help increase a sense of well-being for people who are prone to depression or anxiety.

The study also found that being outside can decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are common among people suffering from depression or anxiety.

When you’re feeling down, it can help to have a friend or family member hug you, because the touch of another person can boost your mood by releasing serotonin and endorphins.

A 2009 study found that being touched by your partner also releases oxytocin, which creates a feeling of trust and attachment. Scientists believe that these chemicals released during physical contact are nature’s way of bonding people together.

Exercising is a great way to boost your mood. Even a short workout has been shown to lower your stress levels and boost your mood.

Researchers from the University of Georgia found that short bouts of exercise can help alleviate symptoms of depression by releasing endorphins and serotonin into the bloodstream, which leaves you feeling happier

Conclusion

Your menstrual cycle is a natural process that can make you feel differently one day to the next. Understanding why can help you feel more in control of your emotions and less like “the meh” days are “the norm.” In addition, knowing when you’re most likely to be in a “positive” mood can help you get the most out of each and every day.

There is a strong connection between ovulation and mental well-being. A 2004 study looked at the relationship between mood and the menstrual cycle and found that women who were depressed tended to have lower levels of estrogen around the time of ovulation compared to women who were not depressed. The lower levels of estrogen during this period may be what’s behind the low mood experienced by some women during this time.





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