Ovulation & Fertile Window
Does Ovulation Make You Tired?
If you are tracking your cycle and ovulation to increase your chance of pregnancy, you might have noticed that you can experience PMS-like symptoms outside of the immediate premenstrual phase of your cycles. Don’t worry — you are not having a second period and may have a perfectly healthy cycle.
Many women report symptoms during ovulation, including tiredness and fatigue, so let’s explore what happens during ovulation that might explain how this happens.
We’ll also look at other symptoms you might experience during ovulation and how the rest of your cycle can cause sleep changes. When we understand hormonal changes that occur throughout our cycles, we can better handle them.
What does ovulation do to your body?
Ovulation occurs about halfway through your cycle. So if your cycle is 28 days, ovulation will occur around day 14. This is the event in which the eggs in your ovaries have been developing toward for 90 to 120 days.
At the time of ovulation, estrogen levels spike as they prepare the lining of your uterus for potential implantation if the ovulated egg gets fertilized. A few days before ovulation, the estrogen level dips, then leading up to ovulation, the level goes up steeply.
They reach their highest level during ovulation. While ovulation technically only lasts 12 to 24 hours, the high estrogen levels can last up to four days. As the egg is released from the ovary, progesterone levels starts rising to stabilize the uterine lining in case the egg gets fertilized.
This means you have higher estrogen and progesterone levels for several days, just around ovulation. Then, during the luteal phase that follows ovulation, if the egg is not fertilized, both hormones decrease as your body prepares to shed the unfertilized egg and the uterine lining it no longer needs. As estrogen and progesterone levels drop, symptoms typically associated with PMS may appear.
Why do I feel sleepy during ovulation?
While most women typically experience fatigue and insomnia after ovulation before your next period, you might feel some tiredness during ovulation. The hormonal changes we mentioned above can explain why.
The hormonal changes your body undergoes leading up to and during ovulation are because your body is getting ready to help you get pregnant. The increases in estrogen make you increasingly attractive to your partner, and you, in turn, might find your partner more attractive.
One study found that women who rated their partners more attractive got less sleep during ovulation. From an evolutionary standpoint, scientists theorized that less sleep could be due to women wanting to stay up and have sex with their partners to have a baby.
You could get less sleep during your fertile window because your body hopes you’ll stay up and make babies. However, immediately after ovulation, you could also be tired as your hormone levels begin to drop again.
Many women report that they have sleep interruptions during their post-ovulatory luteal phase, and this is because melatonin decreases and becomes less effective as your sex hormone levels gradually decline again.
Immediately after ovulation, you might experience PMS symptoms. Peak estrogen around ovulation can cause headaches, fatigue, and even hormonal acne. Experts agree these are common symptoms at the onset of your luteal phase.
For most women, these symptoms intensify toward the second half of the luteal phase, right before your menstrual bleeding starts. However, the sharp rise in progesterone immediately after ovulation (and before the luteal phase) could even result in a feeling of sluggishness and sleepiness.
What will I feel during ovulation?
Tiredness, headaches, and acne are not the only symptoms of ovulation. Here are a few other physical signs of ovulation:
- Cramps: While cramps are normally associated with PMS and menstrual periods, you might experience a cramp or sharp pain around ovulation. This could come when your ovary releases the mature egg.
- Change in Cervical Mucus: If you are trying to get pregnant and track your fertility, you are already aware that a change in cervical mucus is one of the signs you’re looking for. Your cervical mucus will tend to be thick and sticky before ovulation. When it turns clear and slippery, you are close to ovulating. The slippery texture allows sperm to swim easily through your reproductive tract to meet and fertilize an egg.
- Breast Soreness: Women most commonly report breast pain during the second half of their luteal phase, pre-menstruation. However, some report tenderness during ovulation. Doctors call this type of pain “cyclical mastalgia.” Some researchers have linked breast pain to imbalanced hormones during the luteal phase. If you experience intense breast soreness, speak with your doctor to see if it is cyclical mastalgia and ask for ways to address the symptoms.
- Libido Changes: If you experience a higher sex drive during this time, that’s normal. Remember, your body has prepared the perfect environment for a fertilized egg - an embryo - to implant in the uterus, and your hormones are letting you know that if you’d like to get pregnant, you should have sex now. You will likely have increased libido three days before and three days after ovulation. This period is called the fertile window, and the chances of getting pregnant increase by about 20 percent.
Does sleep change over the menstrual cycles?
Your sleep pattern can change throughout your menstrual cycle. While you might sleep less during ovulation, you most likely have a regular sleep schedule and fewer disturbances during the follicular phase leading up to ovulation. In contrast, Researchers have found that the efficacy of melatonin decreases during the luteal phase due to its interaction with your sex hormones.
Reproductive processes and sleep are closely intertwined. They actually share many of the processes and hormones - that's why it's a good idea to get good quality sleep when trying to conceive.
One factor that affects sleep during the luteal and pre-menstrual phase is that your hormones during this time cause body temperature to rise. This is why you can use your basal body temperature to predict when you are fertile and know when you are ovulating.
Try keeping your room's temperature lower to mitigate the effect of your higher body temperature. Keep a regular exercise routine and eat whole foods (little to no sugar) between ovulation and menstruation to regulate your sex hormones as much as possible.
If you experience extreme sleep deficiency and other PMS symptoms during ovulation and pre-menstruation that impact your quality of life too much, speak with your OB/GYN to learn about steps to lessen discomfort during these phases of your cycle.
What can I do to be comfortable during ovulation?
In general, ovulation tends to be a phase when women have more energy and increased libido (which could be why you’re sleeping less). However, if PMS-like symptoms kick in around this time, take care of yourself like you would in your premenstrual phase.
Get some exercise and move your body (but not too late into the evening, which can make it harder to fall asleep). Eat healthy whole foods, and reduce sugar and caffeine intake. Stick to a regular sleep schedule and keep that blue light out of the bedroom an hour before you turn out the lights.
Remember, because of increased estrogen and progesterone, for many women, ovulation can be a time of increased energy, followed by a period of tiredness. If you experience PMS-like symptoms during ovulation, don’t despair.
Ovulation is short, and your hormone levels are high and fluctuating. The more familiar you become with your specific cycle and symptoms, the better you can manage tiredness and fatigue during ovulation.
Please reach out if we can answer any questions about ovulation and cycle tracking. We are with you.
Ovaterra provides reproductive health resources for general, educational purposes only. This content is not intended to replace medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional. Similarly, when making your financial decisions, please consult qualified financial professionals who can make individual recommendations.
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