Fertility Super Foods That Enhance Ovulation
The title of this blog post is ‘super foods that enhance ovulation’ but I’m going to hazard a guess that the people reading this already know more about the foods that enhance ovulation than the hormones and body process that activates ovulation. Sadly, the national curriculum does not cover this in full detail. In fact, the current documentation states that schools must cover
“Reproduction in humans (as an example of a mammal), including the structure and function of the male and female reproductive systems, menstrual cycle (without details of hormones), gametes, fertilisation, gestation and birth, to include the effect of maternal lifestyle on the foetus through the placenta.”
So, it’s left to parents to organise a full understanding for the child. If the knowledge wasn’t passed down to them, it stops.
Pregnancy can happen easily, and for many people it does, too easily for some! However, for many of us, pregnancy does not happen as we desire. Sometimes understanding how your body works makes all the difference.
The Circle of Hormones in the Female Menstrual Cycle
Toni Weschler, author of Cycle Savvy and Taking Charge of Your Fertility – both great books – recommends the acronym FELOP, which obviously stands for Fawns Eat Lots of Pickles. Answers on a postcard for anyone who can think of something more memorable, because even I had to go back and look that one up! The hormones it refers to are follicle-stimulating hormone, estrogen, luteinizing hormone, (ovulation), and progesterone. We record the first day of menstruation as day one of the cycle for ease. Really, the cycle revolves around ovulation, and it would make more sense to view the beginning of your cycle as the first day after ovulation. However, this is not easy to determine without ultrasound or a firm understanding of your body.
Follicle-stimulating hormone begins its ascent in your body during menstruation. It typically causes around 15 – 20 eggs (each encased in a follicle) to grow bigger in your ovaries. The growing cells produce increasing amounts of estrogen. The follicles grow progressively larger and stronger.
The increasing estrogen sends a signal to the brain to release luteinising hormone (LH), which helps the eggs continue maturing. A final surge in LH gives the strongest egg the strength it needs to burst through the ovarian wall into the pelvic cavity, where it is swept into the fallopian tube. The purpose of the egg is to bond with a sperm in the fallopian tube.
The follicular casing left behind turns into a ‘corpus luteum’ stuck on the ovarian wall. After the egg bursts out, it releases progesterone. Your corpus luteum has a life span of around 12 – 16 days. Every corpus luteum that your body produces has the same life span (within a couple of days at least). The progesterone produced by the corpus luteum prevents the release of other eggs, whilst thickening, and maintaining the uterine lining. You’ll recognise progesterone in your body by a decrease in your waking temperature and dry or sticky cervical fluid. If a sperm does not fertilise your egg within 24 hours, it will dissolve. As the corpus luteum disintegrates and dies (providing the egg didn’t bond with a sperm) your body will replenish the uterine lining for the next egg.
Super foods that enhance ovulation
Based on this knowledge, logic tells me that ovulation enhancing foods nurture the natural hormonal cycles of your body. It is important to determine whether your body needs support in this way, as attempting to meddle with your hormones might have a negative effect in other ways.
Certain foods increase estrogen in the body. Many people know that soybeans affect hormones, maybe avoiding soya milk and tofu for this reason. Soybeans contain the plant nutrients phytoestrogens, which mimic estrogen in the body. Flaxseeds contain lignans, which are the precursors to phytoestrogens, so might boost your estrogen too. Hummus, garlic, and dried fruits also contain phytoestrogens so might be good choices if you feel you need an estrogen boost.
Generally, a healthy nutritious diet that supports your body will help it function typically. My blog post here will guide you on the nutrition your body needs. Some sessions with a nutritional therapist will help you understand exactly what support your body needs. They can help you with tests to explore the functions within your body and create a personal diet plan for you.
If you find it a struggle to change your eating habits once you know the foods that will work better for you, some sessions with me will help you. Read my blog post here to learn how I can help you eat differently.