Important Hormones to Monitor for Fertility

Pregnancy checking

For some couples, having children is an easy process that doesn’t require much thought or planning. For many couples, however, becoming pregnant is a challenge. In such cases, you have to try to time things correctly in order to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Understanding how to get pregnant starts by recognizing the signs your body is giving you.

Luckily, some hormones present themselves at times in a woman’s menstrual cycle that can give you clues as to when ovulation is about to happen.

The Menstrual Cycle

A woman’s menstrual cycle is roughly 28 days long. It begins on the first day of a woman’s period and runs until the first day of her next period. A lot goes on in a woman’s body during those four weeks. Hormone levels rise and fall. These hormones control duties such as the release of an egg, the building of uterine lining, and eventually menstruation if no fertilization has occurred.

Paying attention to these hormone levels can be an aid to knowing when a woman is most fertile.

Hormones to Monitor for Fertility

The first hormone to monitor is the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone is made by the brain, specifically in the pituitary gland. It signals to one’s ovaries to begin the process of maturing an egg for release later in the cycle.

Estrogen is released at the same time as the follicle-stimulating hormone. As FSH levels begin to decline, estrogen causes the uterus to begin to thicken its inner lining to receive an egg if it becomes fertilized. Estrogen also produces mucus in the vagina that aids sperm in its journey to meet the egg.

Estrogen also leads to a release of a high amount of another hormone that is crucial for ovulation in a woman’s cycle - luteinizing hormone (LH). There is a spike of LH in the body around the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This tells the ovaries to release the mature egg into the fallopian tubes. The LH hormone is very important for couples to pay attention to if they want to time intercourse correctly for fertilization.

Progesterone’s role is similar to estrogen in that it’s a hormone that builds the uterine walls, but it’s also felt in the post-ovulation luteal phase. Higher progesterone levels will maintain the strength of the uterus walls post-ovulation, making the uterine lining stable enough to support the fertilized egg. With low progesterone, a fertilized egg can’t attach and thrive. Progesterone levels are a gauge of whether ovulation has occurred.

Progesterone will continue to be produced by the corpus luteum for the first two months of the pregnancy and then the placenta will take over this production while nourishing the embryo for the rest of the pregnancy’s duration.

Basal Body Temperature

Basal body temperature goes hand in hand with the rise of LH. A woman can find out when she is having the LH spike in her cycle and know when ovulation is going to occur simply by recording her basal body temperature each day.

It is important to use a correct basal body temperature thermometer, as the fluctuations are very small but definitely detectable. Right before a woman is ready to ovulate, an LH hormone spike will cause a slight dip in a woman’s basal body temperature. This can signal to a woman that she is ready to ovulate. Using this method is highly accurate, but it must be done in the correct way. A woman must take her temperature first thing in the morning before she even gets out of bed to start the day.

After the egg is released by the ovary and ovulation has occurred, a woman’s temperature will go back up to its normal level and remain there for the rest of the cycle. Understanding how this cycle is progressing by tracking one’s basal body temperature greatly increases the chance of knowing when to time intercourse for fertilization.

Understanding how hormones affect our bodies is very important. One can learn how to use the hormones at the beginning and middle of one’s cycle to predict when ovulation is going to occur. With the presence of estrogen that ultimately leads to the all-important LH hormone spike, a woman can take the upper hand in understanding her body.

Accurately predicting ovulation is key for anyone trying so desperately to get pregnant. Understanding one’s hormones and how they change through the menstrual cycle offers the best chance each month of achieving success.

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