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Video:All About Ovulation

with Dr. Stuart James Fischbein

Ovulation is a complex process that happens within a woman's body. Watch this About.com video to learn all about ovulating.See Transcript

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Transcript:All About Ovulation

Hello my name is Dr. Stuart James Fischbein. I'm a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. My website is www.birthinginstincts.com and I'm here today on behalf of About.com to teach you all I know about ovulation, in 2-3 minutes.

How Does Ovulation Work?

The way it works in the human female is that the pituitary gland begins to kick in around 10, 11, 12, 13 years old to tell the ovaries to begin to do their job. And the ovaries will then do their job hopefully precisely and regularly for the next 30, 35, 40 years, at which time they will begin to fail. Normally what happens is once you get your period, the pituitary gland begins to send out information to your ovary and 1, 2, 3, possibly 4 or more follicles begin to develop. However, one becomes dominant.

Estrogen's Role in Ovulation

The cells in the follicle make estrogen. Estrogen then stimulates the lining of the uterus to grow thick, in hopes, of course, of the fertilized egg implanting itself. This is true in humans, it’s true in all mammals. Once you get to the point of ovulation, the pituitary gland senses that the follicle is ready to go and sends out a signal to the ovary to then release the egg. The egg is then released, somewhere in the middle of a cycle, and the egg is released into the abdominal cavity, and it is picked up through either chemotactic or some electrical factors into the fallopian tube which means it’s sort of attracted by movement or some chemical adherence or attraction to the fallopian tube. It’s picked up and taken into the fallopian tube and travels down the fallopian tube.

Fertilization & Pregnancy

If you’re trying to get pregnant, fertilization actually occurs in the fallopian tube, not the uterus. And so the sperm are there waiting in the fallopian tube and the egg takes 2-3 days to travel down the fallopian tube, eventually to implant in the uterine lining. The uterine lining is prepared by the cells that are remaining from the follicle, which now are producing progesterone as well as some estrogen. Progesterone causes increased blood flow to the uterus, making the lining of the uterus, which is called the endometrium, a very lush, healthy valley for the egg to fall into, so that if pregnancy occurs the egg will find a large blood supply of nutrients and oxygen and take hold.

Problems With Ovulation

When there is something wrong with the system and the lining isn’t good, or progesterone isn’t good, then the system may not work and that’s something that if you have problems getting pregnant your practitioner will take care of. When you don’t conceive, the cells in the follicle continue to make hormone for about 2 weeks and those cells are called corpus luteal cells and they make progesterone for about 2 weeks and then if the pregnancy isn’t there and there is no feedback on them to continue, progesterone levels then fall, the lining of he uterus is then shed, your body is essentially biologically disappointed, and then the whole thing starts over again. So the process generally in a woman takes 28 days, but some cycles are 24 days, some women have 32, 33 day cycles.

There is nothing wrong with those but usually a woman will have a regular cycle that’s regular for her body and she’ll know, and when things are altered down the road by that, that’s a calling that something may be changing, and maybe just normal as she grows older or maybe a reason that she wants to consult with her doctor if she is trying to get pregnant. Of course if you take birth control pills or use some other hormonal contraception, the whole process is prevented. But ovulation itself is a very wonderful, amazing function that happens in communication. It’s a dance between your pituitary gland and your brain and your ovaries and your uterus and makes pregnancy and life itself possible.

Again I'm Dr. Stuart Fischbein. Thank you so much for watching. If you'd like to learn more visit us online at About.com.

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