Many of us seem to be pretty familiar with PMS symptoms like mood swings, bloating, cramping, and fatigue. But what if you're experiencing these things weeks in advance? If you're not someone who carefully tracks your period, spotting, getting pelvic pains, and feeling super moody weeks before you get your period can seem pretty alarming. But according to experts, that's all part of that "other
time of the month" called ovulation.
Ovulation impacts every woman’s body differently, and not all women experience the same symptoms," Dr. Peter Rizk, women’s health expert for Fairhaven Health tells Bustle. This means symptoms can vary in intensity and/or duration. Although he says it's difficult to "universalize" it, educating yourself about what can happen to your body during ovulation can help to ease your mind or alert you to the things you may need to discuss with your doctor.
The good news is, the symptoms that you can experience during ovulation shouldn't be that bad, at least not as bad as the
average symptoms woman experiences during PMS. As Dr. Angela Jones, the resident sexual health advisor at Astroglide teslls Bustle, "The happenings and changes that occur are just part of the process and are normal."
So here are some seemingly concerning things that can happen to your
body during ovulation that OB/GYNs say are nothing to worry about.
Changes In Your Discharge
Around the time you ovulate, you might observe changes in the quality and quantity of your cervical mucus (CM). "CM should be abundant, thin (even watery to some degree) and very stretchy," Dr. Rizk says. "It should be able to stretch between your fingers without breaking and will not hold its form." If you notice that your cervical fluids are more transparent, sticky, or even slippery during ovulation, that's totally common. According to him, this change is an essential part of the process to getting pregnant, as it helps to nourish and protect any sperm.
corpus luteum, which is responsible for putting out hormones, secretes progesterone in order to help with pregnancy. As Dr. Rizk says, this increase in the hormone progesterone may contribute to increased breast and nipple sensitivity directly following ovulation. "You may be sensitive, but don’t be concerned!" he says. Again, it’s all part of the process. Pain of any kind can be alarming. But if you typically experience pelvic pain during ovulation, Dr. Jones says, "This is very common and is typically transient." The technical term for ovulation pain is Mittelschmerz and it usually happens about 14 days before your period. "It's really nothing a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug can’t handle," she says. "However, pain that's severe and more significant than this would be signs for alarm and reasons to contact your OB/GYN."
For women who do experience Mittelschmerz, Dr. Rizk says there is a slight chance that you may see some spotting. Mittelschmerz is caused by the egg bursting from the ovary at the very moment you ovulate, he says. So this "bursting forth" may also cause a very light bleeding that can show up in your discharge. "While only about
20 percent of women will experience ovulation pains, even less will be able to detect ovulation spotting," Dr. Rizk says. And having these symptoms may be able to help you track your cycle better. So if you experience manageable pain and spotting a couple of weeks before your actual period, it's common and shouldn't really have anything to worry about.
Some period tracking apps will
ask you to check your cervix to see how far along you are in the process. But if that's not something you do regularly, any changes in the way your cervix feels may be cause for concern. But as Dr. Rizk says, both the position and feel of your cervix will undergo significant changes during your menstrual cycle. "You can detect these changes through a simple self-examination with clean, dry fingers, so it’s a simple test you can do at home to ensure the symptoms are related to ovulation," he says. The cervix is the part of your body that connects the vagina to the uterus, and it will soften and become moist as you approach ovulation. The cervical entrance may be more open and the tip of the cervix may begin to lift. "Of course, all of these descriptive terms are relative and require that you monitor the position, texture, and openness of the cervix throughout your cycle," Dr. Rizk says. "These changes should not be alarming, and monitoring them will allow you to determine if anything is out of the ordinary."
"I see many women for ovulation symptoms including pain, spotting, and breast tenderness,"
Dr. Navya Mysore tells Bustle. "Mood fluctuations is just another one." Like breast tenderness, a major change in your moods is all thanks to an influx of hormones right after ovulation. Since it's still a couple of weeks or so out before you get your period, a change in moods can seem distressing. But again, nothing to worry about. However if your ovulation symptoms are affecting your life in a major way, Dr. Mysore says you should check with a doctor to see if you have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD. "I also treat PMDD quite often and it often starts after ovulation, so it requires parsing out what's normal and what's not," she says.
A Rise In Body Temperature
As you now know, progesterone that's released right after ovulation can lead to a variety of symptoms such as mood swings and breast tenderness. In addition to that, board-certified OB/GYN
Dr. John Thoppil tells Bustle, "Some women may also feel flushed at this time, as the increase in progesterone can raise the body temperature slightly." Again, totally typical and nothing to worry about.
Like Dr. Rizk says, every woman experiences her menstrual cycle differently. As the years go by, your body will change and you may start to get symptoms in your 30s that you may not have had in your 20s. Being aware of what goes on in your body and how it feels is important. Keeping
track of your cycle in a journal or an app, can help you figure out what's common for you. If you do have any concerns, big or small, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor. They can ease your mind or find ways to help treat any symptoms you may be experiencing.