the hidden benefits of ovulation and progesterone. Not just for baby-making 😉
(Check out Part 1, for full conversation)
Fun Fact: The largest cell in the human body is the female egg
and the smallest is the male sperm.
Dana Alloy is an evidence-based reproductive health researcher at UCL and Women's health educator dedicated to helping women understand their periods. Her interests are in menstrual health disorders, the intersection of menstrual health and women’s fitness, and gender bias in healthcare. She believes that knowledge is power. The more you understand your body, the better you can advocate for yourself.
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Here are a few highlights from the conversation:
What's the big deal with ovulation? To potentially have a child?
"Yeah, not in any way saying that women's well-being goes down to their ability to conceive because it absolutely does not. But it is that release of an egg that is your biggest indicator everything works. You're good. Good month...it's important for pregnancy, but it also causes a chain reaction of other hormonal changes, one being that ovulation is the only way that you can achieve a healthy level of progesterone...Essentially you need to have this in order for everything to run smoothly and you can have a period without having ovulation."
You can have a period without ovulating!?
"So it's actually the decline of progesterone and estrogen that triggers your period. So you have this estrogen dominant first phase and then you ovulate, and that creates progesterone. And then once the corpus luteum, the thing that allows for the progesterone to be produced, if you don't get pregnant, it essentially disintegrates and doesn't produce any more progesterone. So when you don't get pregnant after two weeks, then you get your period. So you can skip that whole corpus luteum producing progesterone piece if you don't ovulate... So you can just have the estrogen prime the endometrium, no progesterone, and then you would get your period early because the progesterone hasn't kept it there [the endometrium]. And so it just sheds."
So what are the perks of progesterone?
"So in my mind, estrogen is your Beyoncé or your Chrissy Teigen, like she's just out there, voluptuous in the world, conquering everything, dominating with this feminine force. And then your progesterone is more like Zoe Kravitz in Big Little Lies, pre-murder. When she's just living her best life. And where you're sort of this ethereal, hippy, calm, collected, like beautiful being... it's your most bliss-ed out, creative, intuitive state... the main thing with progesterone is that with it, you're like, "okay, cool, it's helping me sleep". All of these things you can't really notice, but without it, you can feel like shit. So low progesterone is behind a lot of PMS symptoms. It creates bloating, breast tenderness. You can be irritable. You can be anxious. Insomnia is the main one for me. When I can't sleep at all, I'm like, "God damn, I wish I ovulated.”"
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