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Understanding Ovulation Health, Plus How To Nurture It

There’s a lot to be said for becoming closely acquainted with your own cycle, particularly when you’re hoping to become a mother. Here at Beli, we’ve spent a lot of time diving into female fertility to help women understand what’s happening in their bodies and what their cycle is telling them. Today, we’re taking a closer look at ovulation health, including what it means and what can be done to nurture it for the best chance of conception and pregnancy.

Key Takeaways

  • Ovulation is a menstrual phase during which a mature egg is released into a fallopian tube.
  • Ovulation generally begins about 14 days after day one of your period and lasts roughly 24 hours. It’s the most fertile time in a woman’s cycle.
  • You can nurture ovulation health naturally by taking prenatal vitamins, staying active, prioritizing antioxidant-rich foods and avoiding alcohol.

What Is Ovulation?

Ovulation is the phase in your menstrual cycle during which an egg is released from an ovary and moves down a fallopian tube toward the uterus. It’s the second phase (following follicular and before luteal) and it begins roughly 14 days after the first day of your period. Ovulation is the shortest phase of the menstrual cycle, lasting about 24 hours. If you’re pregnant, postmenopausal or taking hormonal birth control, ovulation doesn’t occur.

The most fertile time in a woman’s cycle is around ovulation. Regardless of cycle length, ovulation generally occurs about 14 days after your period begins. To guesstimate when you ovulate, subtract 14 from your typical cycle length. If you have a 35-day cycle, for example, your ovulation window is around day 21. There are also clues that can help you pinpoint ovulation, including:

  • Slick, slippery discharge with a similar consistency to egg whites
  • Abdominal pain, generally on one side
  • Premenstrual symptoms, like breast enlargement and tenderness, bloating and moodiness

An egg survives between 12 and 24 hours following ovulation, and sperm can survive between 3 and 5 days. If you’re timing sex for the best chance of pregnancy, there are six key days—up to five days before ovulation and about a day after. Most experts recommend having sex daily or every other day during this six-day period. 

What About Irregular Ovulation?

Some women don’t ovulate regularly. Erratic ovulation is most common in the first few years following puberty and in women with certain conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and amenorrhea. PCOS is a hormone imbalance that creates issues in the ovaries and comes with a range of symptoms, including irregular or skipped periods. Amenorrhea is when periods stop as a result of excessive exercise or eating disorders.

How Can You Nurture Ovulation Health?

Many of the steps that nurture ovulation health overlap with those that improve your health. And that’s not a coincidence. As you navigate your fertility journey, here’s what you can do to nurture your ovulation health.

Take Prenatal Vitamins

A prenatal vitamin like Beli for Women is designed to support your reproductive health, and that includes ovulation health. They’re made with micronutrients that are linked to the very processes driving fertility health (1). That includes folic acid for healthy egg development, zinc for menstrual cycle regulation, and vitamin D to enhance the absorption of other nutrients and balance hormones. Vitamins B6 and B12, E, C and K2, chromium and choline also work to support ovulation, improve egg quality and generally support health.

Pay close attention to iron levels, too. Low iron levels are associated with anemia, which impacts the menstrual cycle and its regularity. Without sufficient iron, the ovaries may not release an egg and can also impact egg quality. Research shows that iron supplementation can lower the risk of ovulatory infertility (2). As it happens, Beli for Women includes 18mg of Ferrochel, a tummy-friendly form of iron, which is 67% of your recommended daily allowance.

Stay Active

Leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest hurdles to conception, and that’s true for both women and men. In women, inactivity impedes blood flow and circulation and affects hormonal balance. Studies show that physical activity helps regulate menstrual cycles, which improves the chances of conception (3). In men, regular exercise is associated with increased sperm count and improved sperm performance during fertilization. Just 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to reap the benefits. Low-to-moderate impact exercises are best—think: walking, swimming, yoga and cycling.

Don’t overlook the mental health and stress management benefits of regular exercise, either. Stress can wreak havoc on fertility health by raising cortisol levels, so regular exercise is an easy way to benefit in more ways than one.

Prioritize Antioxidant-Rich Foods

There is evidence that antioxidants support egg and sperm health by defending against free radicals in the body, which can be detrimental to reproductive processes. Reach for foods like peaches, blueberries, cranberries, nuts, dark chocolate and green tea for an antioxidant boost. Supplements with CoQ10 are another option. It’s a powerful antioxidant and some studies indicate it can support ovarian sensitivity.

Skip The Alcohol

Alcohol consumption, especially excessive amounts, wreak havoc on fertility health by creating hormonal fluctuations that disrupt ovulation (4). Experts advise women hoping to conceive to abstain from alcohol completely. Even moderate amounts of alcohol—between 3 and 6 drinks in a week—can reduce your chances of pregnancy pretty significantly.

The Bottom Line

It can be empowering to learn that you can nurture your ovulation health. Being proactive with your health and informed about your cycle really can move you closer to your goal of a healthy conception and pregnancy. Take time to familiarize yourself with your cycle, find a high-quality prenatal vitamin with the right nutrients to support ovulatory health and make a point of prioritizing exercise, nutrition and a generally healthy lifestyle. You’d be surprised by what a difference it can make.

Article Resources

1. Cetin, I et al. (2010). Role of micronutrients in the periconceptional period. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19567449/

2. Chavarro, J et al. (2006). Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17077236/

3. Butt, M et al. (2023). Benefits of physical activity on reproductive health functions among polycystic ovarian syndrome women: a systematic review. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-023-15730-8

4. Heertum, K et al. (2017). Alcohol and fertility: how much is too much? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504800/

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