Know Your Body

Science-backed articles about women's health, fertility, sex, periods, and more.
A woman lying on her side in discomfort
Women's healthPainful Sex During Ovulation: Causes and How It Affects FertilityPainful sex is not normal but is experienced by most women at some point in their sexual lives. Three of four women have experienced painful sex. There could be various reasons for this. Here, we discuss the link between ovulation and painful sex and consider how it might affect fertility. Symptoms of Ovulation Pain Ovulation pain is usually felt on one side of the abdomen. It may be very brief or last up to two days and may be accompanied by light spotting. However, it is not generally associated with bleeding or a range of other symptoms. The brief phase of ovulation, about five days in total in the middle of the menstrual cycle, is not often linked to further complications. The ovum is available for conception for less than 24 hours. Ovulation pain can be remedied by a mild painkiller and a hot compress and by taking a contraceptive pill if it becomes severe (which then eliminates fertility of the ovum). The following signs accompany ovulation: Clear, stretchy mucus (actually secreted by the cervix)The body's basal temperature becomes higher for a day or soMore energy, increased libido, heightened senses, and sensitive breastsSome pain, but this is not always experienced. Normal ovulation does not negatively affect fertility, but painful sex can affect fertility. Sex at ovulation is the best way to conceive. Painful intercourse affects fertility in different ways. Causes of Painful Intercourse During Ovulation The pain of ovulation experienced in the abdomen is not necessarily worsened by intercourse. Painful intercourse is not caused by ovulation pain, but a combination of painful intercourse while experiencing ovulation pain should be avoided. This is because the stress of pain may affect fertility. It makes sense to avoid painful intercourse when you are already experiencing ovulation pain. Painful intercourse during ovulation can have some of the following causes: Hitting the cervix during sex. This is less likely during ovulation as the cervix is retracted.Doggie style sex or another position that may also nudge the cervix uncomfortablyNot enough lubrication/foreplayPelvic inflammatory diseaseAn ovarian cystCramping after ovulation, caused by implantation of a fertilized eggEndometriosis Painful intercourse can also be accounted for by pre-existing conditions such as vulvodynia or vaginismus. These are unrelated to ovulation. Cramping after unprotected intercourse during ovulation may be due to the activity of the ovum being released from the fallopian tube or due to post-orgasmic tension. In other words, it is not a threat to conception. How Fertility Is Affected by Painful Intercourse Painful intercourse is stressful, stress releases cortisol, and this affects the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic pain is triggered by physical or mental stress, and these hormones cause the pelvic floor muscles to contract. During ovulation, the cervix moves up, it becomes softer and more sensitive, and deeper penetration is possible without bumping it uncomfortably. However, the pain of ovulation might affect sexual pleasure. Different sexual positions may be painful, which is stressful. This may affect hormonal patterns, which, in turn, may affect the whole process of conception. Sex may also be painful because of an underlying health problem, such as endometriosis, fibroids, infection, or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This directly affects ovulation and conception, so get a gynecological checkup before trying to conceive. If you experience painful intercourse, you might want to avoid sex during ovulation, reducing your chances of conception. When Should You See a Doctor About Pain During Intercourse? If you experience pain during intercourse, check with your doctor to rule out any underlying illness or infection. It is important for the cause of the pain to be investigated. Seek medical help if: The pain is severeThe duration of the pain extends beyond the sexual activityThe pain is accompanied by bleeding, nausea, or vomiting The pain extends to other areas of your body In summary, painful intercourse may be related to sexual practices and positions that put stress on the cervix, or it may be due to health problems. It is best to avoid the stress of painful intercourse during ovulation, as stress hormones may interfere with conception. The sense of well-being felt during ovulation promotes conception. However, painful sex does not promote it.
A young woman sitting on the couch holding her abdominal area
Women's healthIs Ovulation Pain a Sign That It’s Too Late to Conceive?Not all women experience ovulation cramps, but it's good to know how to identify them and their role in conception. During ovulation, when the luteinizing hormone peaks (LH peaks), you may experience pain on one side of the body, which can last for a few seconds or up to 12 hours. The pain is thought to be related to the egg breaking through the ovary wall, and some water or a little blood may also be released, causing spotting. Symptoms of Ovulation Cramps The intensity of ovulation cramps may be severe and sharp. However, they are usually brief and on one side of the abdomen. The pain flares in the middle of the menstrual cycle, and you may experience ovulation cramps before or after an egg is released. Some bloating may also be triggered by the LH peaks, which can cause water retention. The ovulation cramps may be sharper than period cramps. Can You Still Conceive if Experiencing Ovulation Cramps? Ovulation cramps are not a sign that there is a problem; they occur before, during, or after the egg is released. So, they are good news for conception because they can be a positive sign that the ovum is becoming available for conception. It is possible to conceive immediately after the ovum is released if sperm is already present in the uterus waiting for it. Any sexual activity leading to sperm being present in the uterus over the 48-hour lifespan of the ovum can lead to conception. The Difference Between Ovulation Cramps and Implantation Cramps Ovulation cramps might not feel very different from implantation cramps, but they occur at different times. Some women experience cramps after sex during ovulation. Cramps may occur or be worsened by sex during ovulation, but this is due to the pressure on the cervix during sexual activity and not related to ovulation. Implantation cramps occur when the fertilized egg implants itself in the soft tissue of the uterus, and they may occur between 10-14 days after conception. These cramps are caused by the hormones progesterone and estrogen that feed the growth of the endometrium, a bed of tissue to receive the egg. Some brownish spotting, which is implantation bleeding, may occur at this time and looks different from a regular period. Again, this is a positive sign of conception, not a problem. Easing Ovulation Pain and Increasing Fertility Here are some tips to ease ovulation pain: Take a painkiller like ibuprofenApply a hot cloth or hot water bottle to the painful areaMove around if you can Some tips to increase your chance of conception are: Have sex often—before, during, and after ovulation—to maximize your opportunity for fertilization.Keep track of your basal body temperature during the phase of ovulation. The temperature rise, caused by progesterone and estrogen, indicates ovulation and lets you know you have a good chance of conceiving. When Should You See a Doctor? If your cramping persists beyond 24 hours, or there are other symptoms accompanying it, consult your doctor. These additional symptoms indicate that you need help: Unusual vaginal bleedingReferred pain (e.g., from your groin down to your leg)Cramping and frequent painful urination Vomiting or diarrheaA missed period If you have these symptoms, there may be a possibility that the cramping is related to acute appendicitis, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, not ovulation. To understand the effects of different hormones at different stages of the menstrual cycle, it may be helpful to look at a visual source showing the phases of your menstrual cycle. It is also a guide to understanding how tracking ovulation and your period can help you conceive.
Woman laying in bed holding her stomach
Women's healthCan Uterine Fibroids Cause Bleeding?Fibroids are non-cancerous, tumorous growths of muscle and connective tissue, which may occur anywhere in your body without any harmful or painful effects. Uterine fibroids develop in the space inside the uterus or in its soft tissue walls. They may be as small as a pea or a cluster of them may become as big as a watermelon and are found in women mainly between the ages of 35 and 50. There is as yet no definite answer from medical researchers about what causes the growth of uterine fibroids in some women. Suggested causes are prolonged exposure to estrogen, genetics, cells developing in the wrong place since birth, an excess of micronutrients, or stress. Why Uterine Fibroids Cause Bleeding Uterine fibroids are affected by hormone imbalances. Therefore, they respond by growing larger during the menstrual cycle when a woman's hormone levels change constantly. The growth irritates the uterus cavity or uterine lining, which then begins to bleed. The soft tissue of the uterine lining will manifest as clots in a heavy bleed. This may be part of a regular menstrual bleed or can even occur in between periods. Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids Uterine fibroids affect the uterus's general well-being and normal functioning. If you experience the following symptoms, ask your doctor to check for the presence of uterine fibroids: pelvic painpainful period crampsheavy bleeding or prolonged bleeding during a period (the most common symptom)heavy bleeding between periodsmissed periodspain during sexlower back painfrequent urinationbloating and a distended abdomena mass that can be felt in the abdomencomplications during pregnancy, including the risk of a cesarean delivery You'll only be sure that these symptoms are caused by fibroids when you've had a pelvic examination by a doctor, and possibly other assessments via an MRI or scanner. A full investigation is necessary to identify fibroids. They may be a real obstacle to fertility, therefore affecting your likelihood of falling pregnant. How To Stop Fibroid Bleeding Conducting a complete hysterectomy—removing the uterus and ovaries—is no longer the only treatment available. The current trend is to be minimally invasive and not remove anything, but rather starve the fibroids of hormones or of blood flow. This method aims to shrink the fibroids and to diminish abnormal vaginal bleeding. This can be done through a variety of non-invasive surgical procedures, most commonly by uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a process of injecting particles into the arteries that supply the fibroids. Once in the arteries, these particles swell up and block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing the fibroids to shrink dramatically and die. UFE is 95% effective and is considered one of the best treatments for fibroids. Other Treatment Options for Uterine Fibroids Are: tranexamic acid, a prescription medication taken during the menstrual cycleantifibrinolytics which decrease the clotting and the duration of the bleedinga progesterone IUD which acts as a contraceptive and minimizes bleedinga low-dose birth control pill, which provides counter-acting hormones which shrink the fibroids a prescription of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GHA), which releases a hormone in such a way that it reduces estrogen in the body, precipitating a menopause-like state. This deprives the fibroids of estrogen, causing them to shrink and become less active. These treatments help to stop the bleeding caused by uterine fibroids. However, it remains important to receive specialist gynecological management of the uterine fibroids, because of the risk of diminished fertility. Treatment of Uterine Fibroids Improves Fertility After treatment, it is easier to get pregnant because fibroids are less likely to block the fallopian tubes and hinder ovulation. The sperm can then also move freely through a normally shaped cervix, uncluttered by fibroids, as well as in the uterus. Without fibroids preventing the sperm's movement, the likelihood of fertilization increases. Conclusion It's vital to get an expert medical assessment of your symptoms if you think you have uterine fibroids. There is help available to relieve all the difficult and painful symptoms as well as to support you when managing your fertility proactively.
Woman sitting on sofa pressing her hands against her abdomen
Women's healthCan Fibroids Cause Missed Periods?Fibroids are abnormal growths of tissue, like a knot, which are usually harmless but can have bad side effects where they hinder your body's normal functions. In the uterus, they may trigger much heavier bleeding during menstruation or even between periods. This bleeding may interfere with conception and with the length of the menstrual cycle. Causes and Symptoms of Fibroids Fibroids may be very damaging to the normal functions in a specific place in your body—for example, a fibroid in your spine might paralyze you. However, when they grow in or around the uterus, they likely come from an abnormal muscle cell in the muscly walls of the uterus and are not malignant or cancerous. Once they are in the uterus, they are affected by the hormone, estrogen. When estrogen is released during ovulation, it makes the fibroids grow, just like fertilized eggs might grow after conception. Fibroids may also be linked to a hormonal imbalance, affecting the regularity of your periods. The symptoms of fibroids include the following: Heavy bleeding during periods (rapidly soaking through pads and tampons)Bleeding between periodsAnemia caused by loss of blood Low back painPelvic painPain during sexIncreased frequency of urinationComplications during pregnancy or labor How Fibroids Affect Your Period You might miss your period because of fibroids if you bleed between periods. This creates hormonal irregularities which disrupt the menstrual cycle and might prevent ovulation. It's important to consult your gynecologist about this. An ultrasound investigation or MRI might reveal fibroids or uterine polyps. Treatment might mean having the fibroids surgically removed, or trying to manage them with hormones or other medication. You may experience intense pain during your period when you have fibroids. This may need medical investigation if the pain is overwhelming. There are various ways to relieve period cramps, including using painkillers, exercising, avoiding certain foods, applying hot compresses, and staying hydrated. Painful periods can be managed in most cases by using a hormonal contraceptive pill. However, pain and bleeding caused by fibroids need special medical management. Fibroids may cause heavy menstrual bleeding because they affect the growth of veins and blood supply in the uterus. When you have a period and the endometrium is shed from the uterus, it will have a bigger surface area or more blood vessels, causing heavier bleeding than normal. This might also cause clots to form. The Risks of Not Treating Fibroids If they are not treated or removed, fibroids may grow bigger and may multiply over the surface of the uterus, disrupting possible conception and causing serious anemia. They might burst, causing severe pain and further bleeding. It would be better to consult your gynecologist and consider having them removed, possibly by uterine fibroid embolization, which is a surgical procedure performed without general anesthesia. When to Be Concerned About Missing Your Period If you are tracking your menstrual cycle, either by your own observation of physical changes or by using apps and devices, you may quickly notice a missed or late period. Each woman and each cycle is different and may vary slightly, so close observation is helpful. Depending on your environment, stress level, age, or illness, you may experience hormonal shifts which might lead to a late or missed period. You should be concerned if the missed period happens at least three times, is coupled with pain, or you suspect it could be a pregnancy. Repeated missed periods could also be an indication of cancer. Therefore, a checkup is essential. Get professional help to assess the fibroids and prevent further problems from developing.
Hands holding a stethoscope and  a clipboard with the word "hormones" on it
Women's healthHow Hormone Imbalances Affect Your Period—and How to Treat ThemHormones play an integral role in our daily lives and need to be taken seriously to ensure maximum health and functionality. Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands. They act as chemical messengers that travel along our bloodstream and tell our organs and tissues what to do. Hormones help control reproduction and can therefore affect our period, especially if we're experiencing hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances are when there is too much or too little of a particular hormone, and these can have major effects on the body, even if the imbalance is minor. Some hormonal fluctuations can occur during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, or breastfeeding—all of which are completely natural. However, other changes can be due to endocrine glands that are not functioning properly, which can lead to more serious effects. Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalances There are many symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances, and it's essential to be familiar with them so that you can act accordingly. Here are some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalances: Mood swingsHeavy or painful periodsLow libidoInsomnia or poor sleep qualityUnexpected weight gainSkin problems such as acneFertility problemsHeadaches or migrainesWeak bonesVaginal drynessExcess hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body Many of these symptoms go unnoticed as they aren't viewed as indicators of hormonal imbalances. From personal experience, I often perceived my acne as a result of a poor skin routine or not drinking enough water, or sleepless nights being caused by anxiety or stress—but they were all indicators of hormonal imbalances in my body and were leveled out quite easily. Which Hormone Imbalances Affect Your Period? As women, our bodies are drastically influenced by our estrogen and progesterone levels, so it makes sense for these two hormones to be the main culprits when it comes to experiencing "out of the ordinary" periods, such as irregular periods. Irregular periods are when the starting time between each period begins to change or if the length of your period varies a lot. There are many causes of irregular periods besides changes in our estrogen and progesterone levels. Some women have very low body fat (such as elite professional athletes or women with eating disorders), and, as a result, they experience extremely light or even non-existent periods, known as "amenorrhea." This is caused by a severe estrogen imbalance. How to Identify Which Hormone Imbalance You Have Testing hormones is very different from testing cholesterol or iron levels in your blood because hormones are constantly changing (day by day, hour by hour), and there are also more than 50 hormones in the human body! So asking your doctor to check your hormones is like asking them to find a needle in a haystack. Hormones change based on where you are in your menstrual cycle, when you last ate, your stress levels, other hormone activities, and many other factors. Your doctor can do hormone tests to determine which one is out of balance, but inform them of your symptoms so that they can narrow it down. You can also keep track of your own period and cycle to determine when (in which phase of your cycle) you are experiencing symptoms because different hormones fluctuate in each phase. This can also help narrow down the hormone that is in imbalance. Can You Treat Hormone Imbalances? Yes! The method of treatment will depend on the possible cause of the hormone imbalance. For example, if you are experiencing hormone imbalances due to menopause, there are a variety of hormone balance supplements for you to take. You can also look further into how birth control helps with PMS and regulating periods. There are also many natural remedies to consider. These begin by following a healthy lifestyle such as getting sufficient sleep each night (6-8 hours), eating a high-quality diet with enough protein and healthy fats and less sugar, managing your stress by meditating or practicing yoga, and exercising regularly. If natural remedies don't help, then you may need to seek professional medical care as an option, especially if your period suddenly acts out of the ordinary or if you experience more pain than usual during a period. In the end, we know our bodies best and will be able to detect when we're not quite feeling ourselves. Listen to your body, analyze the symptoms and act accordingly to make sure you are putting yourself and your body first!
Calendar showing 31 days and a hand with a tampon
Women's healthAvoid Unwanted Pregnancy by Tracking Your Cycle's Safe PeriodEach and every woman experiences periods for the majority of their lives. We all know this and understand the basic ins and outs, but what we may not all know is that there are certain days in our menstrual cycle where our fertility and the chance of falling pregnant are low. These are known as "safe days". In order to know when these safe days are, it is important to track your menstrual cycle and log the various physical, emotional and hormonal changes you may be experiencing. There are many period tracker devices or methods that you can choose from. How Soon After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant? Ovulation typically occurs around day 14 of the menstrual cycle, when a mature egg is released into the fallopian tubes and awaits fertilization. This is considered the most fertile time in the cycle, and unprotected sex can result in pregnancy. Sperm can also survive for up to 7 days after sex, so if a couple has had unprotected sex during or immediately after a period, pregnancy can still occur. The chances of falling pregnant also majorly depends on the length (number of days) of your menstrual cycle and how long your period lasts. If falling pregnant is your desired outcome, it's vitally important that you track your ovulation as this can increase your chances of conception and allow you to have sex within your most fertile window. In contrast, if pregnancy is not your desired outcome, it's important to note that there are no guaranteed days in the menstrual cycle where it's completely safe to have unprotected sex. How Long the Pregnancy "Safe Period" Lasts "Safe period" refers to the days within the menstrual cycle when a woman has reduced chances of getting pregnant. You can fall pregnant during the 5 or so days leading up to ovulation, and on the same day. However, pregnancy can still occur a day or two after ovulation if there is still sperm inside the uterus, but this is less likely. Once the fertile window has passed, this leaves around 21 days in the menstrual cycle where pregnancy is less likely. The days before and during menstruation are the least fertile days of the menstrual cycle. How to Track Your Period Cycle There are multiple ways to track your period cycle. You can either opt for a period tracking app, or you can track your period manually using the calendar method. Both methods will work exactly the same, it's just a matter of personal preference. You'll begin by monitoring your period for at least 6 cycles to ensure you have a good understanding of your cycle, its length, and regularity. Either on your calendar or app, the first day of your period is day 1 of your cycle. Then next month, mark the first day of your next period. Count the number of days between each cycle (from day 1 of the first period to day 1 of the second period), and this will tell you the length of your cycle. Continue doing this for a few months. If all of your cycles are less than 27 days, then the manual calendar method may not be ideal for you. But don't despair! There are many different cycle tracking devices that do it for you. Is It Safe to Have Sex Just After Your Period? Falling pregnant just after your period is unlikely but not impossible. If you are having unprotected sex throughout your cycle, there is absolutely no given time where pregnancy may not occur. If pregnancy is not something you are currently aiming for, then it's advisable to use a method of birth control and understand how birth control will affect your menstrual cycle. The fertile days may last for up to 3-5 days after the end of your period. If your period is long, you may only have a few days left after your period before your fertile days begin. If your menstrual cycle is short, then you may ovulate just days after your period ends. Due to sperm being able to survive 5-7 days, pregnancy can occur if you happen to ovulate a little early. If you and your partner are actively trying to fall pregnant, it is best to time having sex during your fertile days and around ovulation. You can take an ovulation test to determine when you are ovulating and then make sure you are having unprotected sex during ovulation to maximize your chances of sperm meeting egg. Periods and tracking apps are not a "one-size-fits-all," so it's important to put time and effort into understanding your own cycle, and knowing your future pregnancy or no-pregnancy plans.
A gynecologist holds a phone app with an ovulation tracking app
Women's healthClear Jelly-Like Blob Discharge: What It Means & Better Cycle TrackingUsually, a clear jelly-like blob discharge is a healthy and normal sign of ovulation, but vaginal discharge may appear in different forms and from different parts of the female reproductive organs. It's quite a common experience to have a liquid or sticky discharge, given that the hormonal changes in those organs are ongoing, even beyond menopause. A discharge might be a sign of irritation of the vagina, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), early pregnancy, ovulation, or even postpartum. If you are on a birth control pill, you may also experience some discharge. Find out more about how to identify the natural signs of your menstrual cycle, and when a discharge might be a problem needing medical attention. When Is a Clear Jelly-Like Discharge Most Prevalent? A jelly-like discharge is most prevalent during the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle, for a day or two. It consists of stringy, transparent, jelly-like mucus and sometimes a deposit of a blob. This is mucus that helps sperm move easily up into the uterus to meet the egg and fertilize it. A similar type of discharge is also sometimes seen at the end of pregnancy, as discussed below. Struggling to track your fertile window? Take a look at the best cycle and ovulation tracking apps available. Does Discharge Differ in Appearance During Ovulation? Your vaginal discharge does change during your menstrual cycle. From being clear, thin, and watery, immediately after your period, it may become thicker and jelly-like—similar to egg whites—closer to ovulation. At the time of ovulation, it is clear and elastic if you stretch it between finger and thumb. There may be a lot of it, so a blob is not unusual. If you are trying to fall pregnant, then use this time of jelly-like mucus to increase your chances of conception. If you want to avoid pregnancy, then you must use contraception before the very clear mucus appears, because sperm live for 72 hours and may be alive and waiting by the time you ovulate! So ideally, use contraception between the end of your period and the end of ovulation, to be sure not to fall pregnant. To learn more about ovulation and pregnancy, read Will an Ovulation Test Give a Positive Result if Taken When Pregnant? Why Discharge Can Appear Jelly-Like During Your Pregnancy If you are pregnant and near full term (after 37 weeks), then you may experience a jelly-like blob that is more like a plug. It may be the mucus plug that normally forms to keep the baby safe from infection, and keeps the cervix closed while you are pregnant. When you are close to a full term in your pregnancy, the plug becomes loosened when the cervix retracts (thins and pulls away), opening up for labor. You may then experience some clear jelly-like mucus flowing after the release of the plug. It has nothing to do with labor itself, but may also only be released when labor starts, or may not be seen at all. This release of the mucus plug shows that labor may begin within two weeks or a few days. It is a healthy sign, but if you are worried, or if you notice blood streaks in the mucus, use a pad and show your doctor. Why You Should Track Your Cycle Your menstrual cycle hormones give you clues about what is happening in your body. The patterns of symptoms, like changes in mucus, breast tenderness, and possibly bloating, tell you more about which phase is happening. By learning to match your bodily signs with the phase of your cycle, you can understand and accommodate your body's processes. While you are breastfeeding, your period is suppressed by the hormones that produce breast milk. Useful Tips to Help You Track Your Cycle Note how your vaginal mucus changes throughout a cycle.Note when you experience breast sensitivity—at ovulation and when your period begins. If you are keen to fall pregnant, note carefully when the clear, jelly-like mucus appears. Alternatively, use an ovulation test to identify when you are ovulating.Note how many days between the end of your period and the beginning of ovulation—these are the days when you might conceive if you are having sex about once every 24 hours.
A woman wearing pink holding her stomach area that is uncomfortable
Women's healthBloating During Ovulation: Causes and Tips for Relief Is Bloating During Ovulation Normal? It is normal for women to experience some bloating around ovulation time (within five days of ovulation), but the question is what other symptoms are also due to ovulation. These additional symptoms include acid reflux, general indigestion, constipation or cramping, tender or very sensitive breasts, and pain on one side of the abdomen. It's difficult to tell whether ovulation or premenstrual syndrome causes bloating and digestive problems. These questions are all considered in the discussion below. Why Do You Bloat During Ovulation? Bloating may be due to water retention at the time of ovulation and usually lasts only a few days. You may retain water during ovulation from day 4-11 of your cycle when ovulation usually occurs. Bloating is caused by the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) when the ovum is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. It feels like a heaviness, swelling, and tightness of the belly and may make it difficult to fit into your jeans or fasten your belt. This hormone can also cause breast tenderness and some abdominal pain during ovulation. This pain, called Mittelschmerz pain, is usually experienced on one side of the abdomen. Some mild vaginal discharge or slight vaginal bleeding is also linked to ovulation. The LH also triggers an increased sense of taste, vision, and smell, increases sex drive, and may cause food cravings for salty food like chips or cheese. Increased weight at ovulation and heavier breasts can both be explained by water retention. On the other hand, disturbances in digestion are more commonly linked to the body producing a different hormone, progesterone, which happens after ovulation. Bloating, constipation, and cramping are typical of the post-ovulation phase, winding down to menstruation. Bloating begins after ovulation when progesterone is released to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg. Progesterone slows down bowel movements, which may trigger constipation or bloat. These problems are not really linked to ovulation; instead, they are about the bodily changes related to preparing for pregnancy. How Can You Relieve Bloating Issues During Ovulation? There are several tips to deal with bloating at ovulation. Try the following: Movement and relaxation can release digestive gas from the bowel. There are specific yoga poses that help relieve bloating. Relaxation and meditation practices also help relieve overall tension and mental stress, improving bowel health. Drink plenty of water.Take a magnesium supplement.Limit foods that cause bloating (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, artichoke, garlic, onions, and wheat) and fruits like apples, watermelon, and pear. Limit salt your intake. Pain on one side of the abdomen is usually related to the release of the ovum and is a normal symptom of ovulation. It lasts for up to 12 hours and is usually mild. An ovarian cyst can cause similar pain and bloat. If the pain is severe, you may have an ovarian cyst, and you should immediately seek medical help. You may also feel gassy and bloated during ovulation due to endometriosis, so a regular pelvic checkup is essential. How to Differentiate Between Ovulation Bloating and Premenstrual Bloating Bloating may be present during both ovulation and the premenstrual phase. Premenstrual bloating may begin the week before your period and may last until the first day of your period. It is also linked to other symptoms of the body preparing for menstruation. Premenstrual hormones may trigger other symptoms that accompany bloating, including: Tender breastsSwollen breastsDiarrhea, constipation, or nauseaAbdominal crampsFatigue the day before your periodIrritabilityMood swingsHeadaches To summarize, bloating during ovulation is brief because ovulation is brief, but bloating during the premenstrual phase may last a week or as long as the premenstrual phase lasts. In both cases, the bloating ends when the hormones change, bringing the next phase of the cycle. The phases of the menstrual cycle can be difficult to understand. To get a clearer picture, take a look at our guide to the phases of the menstrual cycle.
A man holding his wife's hand under her pregnant belly
Women's healthERA Test: Success Rate, Procedure, Costs, and MoreGynecologists use an ERA Test (Endometrial Receptivity Analysis) to help women undergoing IVF treatments determine if the endometrium is receiving an embryo at the right time. By having this information, it is easier to increase the chance of pregnancy. For a more comprehensive explanation before we answer some wider questions, take a look at our full explanation of what the ERA test is. How Do I Know if I Need or Should get the ERA Test? It's important to note that the ERA test is not offered as a standard procedure at most IVF clinics. It is usually offered to women who have already been through a minimum of three failed IVF treatments. RMA research has proved that women with only three normal embryos already have a 95% chance of pregnancy, making the ERA test a procedure for more unusual cases where this doesn't happen. How Does an ERA Test Work? The ERA test determines the endometrium's health, identifying problems in the lining of the uterus that might cause a failed implantation. It also assists in figuring out the best time to carry out the zygote implantation procedure. This time frame is known as the window of receptivity. So, in effect, the ERA test determines whether a woman's uterus has already passed its window of receptivity, if it is currently happening, or when it is about to take place. It is essentially an endometrial receptivity analysis. Sequential hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, must be taken before the procedure. The procedure involves a tiny catheter inserted through the cervix to extract a tissue sample, which is then tested using next-generation sequencing technology. What Is a Window of Receptivity? The small timeframe in which the uterus can receive an embryo at the right developmental stage needed for implantation (and thus pregnancy) is called the window of receptivity. It is also known as the lining receptivity or the best window of implantation for IVF treatment. The length of the window differs from woman to woman, with one important factor being the level of progesterone and the genes excreted by the endometrium. Read more on the length and how it works in our article about the IVF timeline/procedure. How Much Will an ERA Test Cost? An ERA test may or may not be covered by insurance. The test usually costs around $1,000. Do ERA Tests Work? The ERA test claims to have a 73% pregnancy rate (1). Tests thus far have shown that ERA does not necessarily improve the "chances of achieving an ongoing pregnancy from a [frozen blastocyst transfer]" or, more specifically, women without RIF (2). Therefore, women with RIF may still benefit, but additional RCT is needed to determine whether or not this is the case. The latest articles (April 2022) on case studies and trials concluded: "Considering the approximately one-third of infertile women could suffer from displaced WOI, the ERA test emerged as a promising tool. Although the present meta-analysis demonstrates that patients with a general good prognosis may not benefit from ERA, pET guided by ERA significantly increases the chances of pregnancy for non-receptive patients with RIF of endometrial origin" (3). Downsides of ERA Tests Inconclusiveness about efficacy Minimum of a month waiting period for the embryo transfer after the procedureThe cost is relatively high ($750 - $1,000), which may be too expensive for many womenMany clinics do not offer the test at allThe uterine biopsy collecting the endometrial tissue can be painful as a general anesthetic isn't used. It is recommended that patients take painkillers beforehand. Many women report pain during and after the procedure, but this will differ between individuals. In Conclusion There is much debate between doctors, researchers, and IVF specialists, and numerous large-scale trials are still ongoing. Our experts' brief research into ERA concluded that careful consideration should be taken before committing to the ERA test. Women should always take an individualistic approach before making a decision—your body and circumstances are always unique. Of course, it is also advised to always consult with a qualified and caring professional before making the leap.