Understanding Hormones for Fertility and Ovulation Cycle

It’s funny how when you don’t want a child, you do everything you can for contraceptives and then when you stop your contraceptives, you expect a baby to just pop out miraculously because you’ve stopped contraceptives. Most couples think it’s so easy to get pregnant and then when you do start trying, you realize how hard it is. Makes you wonder why you tried so hard to prevent it from happening before when the chances of you getting pregnant isn’t event great in the first place? Anyway, sometimes I feel silly when I think about all the times I thought I may get pregnant when it was nearly impossible.

On with the story. Once you’ve discovered you’re not getting pregnant within three months you start researching the web and you realize you actually lived your whole life without knowing anything about your own womanly body and baby blogs are spitting out terms that are so foreign to you that you start to feel anxiety because you have “no clue” what the heck they’re talking about! No one is trying to clear this up either! This is the number one reason why I don’t like using abbreviations on this site because I know it can be daunting to people who are starting to do their research.

So let me try to explain our hormones and how they vary throughout our womanly cycle.

Some terms:

  • Progesterone
  • Estrogen
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  • Ovulation
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

It starts with FSH. FSH causes both ovaries to mature eggs. These eggs sits nicely in what are called follicles. What do these follicles do? They produce estrogen! Why do we need estrogen? It’s the hormone that makes ovulation occur so you need this hormone in order to ovulate. So now the estrogen is going to increase and build up to a certain level. It’s like a relay race. Estrogen reaches a point and then LH kicks in because it was signaled by estrogen. LH is like a woman knocking on the follicle that tells the egg, “yoo hoo, you’re ready to come out!” So the LH surge causes the egg to burst out of the follicle. This is when you may feel your own ovulation like a little cramping on your left, right, both or none (which is totally normal). Some women can feel which side they’re ovulating from and some can’t and some women ovulate on both sides (more on this in another future post).

Now that the egg is out, the remainder of the shell is now called a “corpus luteum.” Sounds dreadful I know. Reminds me of corpse. I guess it sort of is. Like old snake skin. So this empty shell now starts to release progesterone! Progesterone is like the jealous girlfriend syndrome and tells all other eggs to stop bursting out! Otherwise, we’d be like pigs and have several babies all at once. There are chances that the other egg on the other ovary was release at the same time, so you may have twins but this is very rare. Progesterone also tells your uterine lining to thicken for the egg to burrow if it’s fertilized and it’s the hormone that sustains your pregnancy! This hormone is very important.

The egg is now picked up by your fallopian tube. Either tube may pick this egg up. As long as you have one working tube, you’re good to go.

If your egg is not fertilized your corpus luteum disintegrates (again, kind of like corpse or dead snake skin) 12-16 days later and then you have your period.

If your egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum doesn’t disintegrate because now you have an embryo spitting out HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Sound familiar? That’s what pregnancy tests are based off of: HCG.

Here’s are some great charts for hormone levels:

http://www.fertilityplus.org/faq/hormonelevels.html

What a journey right?

So before my ovulation, my LH was 24.9. The clinic said this was a surge for ovulation and now I understand why!

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