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Major Points in this Lesson:
Each of the fertility signals that you observe when you chart your fertility signs corresponds to a hormonal process and the presence of hormones in your bloodstream. Estrogen and progesterone are the significant hormones that offer the signals you observe when charting your fertility signs.
Estrogen dominates your menstrual cycle during your pre-ovulation (follicular) phase. Progesterone takes over after ovulation, during your luteal phase. Progesterone is also the dominant hormone during pregnancy should conception occur.
Your cervical fluid and
cervical position provide clues about estrogen, as do saliva
microscopes and fertility monitors.
Estrogen and Your Fertility Signs
Estrogen refers to a group of hormones that stimulate growth and strengthen tissues. It is needed to build up the lining of the uterus so that it may nourish and sustain a fertilized egg. When we are talking about fertility, the kind of estrogen we are referring to is called estradiol. This estrogen is produced by the developing ovarian follicles and later, in increasing amounts, by the dominant follicle before it is released at ovulation. Estrogen has many roles in reproduction:
Progesterone and Your Fertility Signs
While estrogen dominates the pre-ovulatory, follicular phase of your cycle, progesterone dominates the post-ovulatory, luteal phase of your cycle. Before ovulation, progesterone is present only in very small amounts. After ovulation, progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum (the remains of the ovarian follicle after ovulation), and is present in dramatically higher amounts. Progesterone plays the following roles:
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Your Fertility Signs
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is the last hormone to peak before ovulation and is the hormone responsible for triggering the rupture of the ovarian sac that releases the egg at ovulation. This hormone can be measured by ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) and fertility monitors that use chemicals to identify its presence in your urine.
The presence of increased amounts of LH in your urine, as detected by OPKs, usually means that you will ovulate within 12-24 hours but this can vary slightly depending on your own hormonal profile. LH is not released all at once, but rather it rises and falls for about 24-48 hours. The LH rise usually begins in the early morning while you are sleeping and it takes 4-6 hours for it to appear in your urine after that. For this reason, first morning urine may not give the best result. Testing mid-day is usually recommended. It is important to follow the instructions of your OPK for maximum results.
Many women like ovulation
prediction kits, even though they are not able to confirm or pinpoint
ovulation precisely, because they can tell you that ovulation is
imminent. It is important, however, not to rely exclusively on
OPKs for timing intercourse and identifying your most fertile time.
This is because you may already be fertile before your OPK
turns positive. You may like to use them to cross-check
your other fertility signs and to offer additional clues about
impending ovulation. They may be especially useful if you have
ambiguous charts. If your cycles are irregular or very long, OPKs may
be very costly because you may need to use several tests to be sure
to catch the LH surge.
Next Lesson: All about Cervical Fluid.
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