5 surprising facts about the female egg cell

1. It’s the biggest cell in your body

Most cells in our bodies cannot be seen without a microscope, but the female egg cell is big enough to be visible to the naked eye. Pretty impressive huh?

2. You’re born with all of your eggs in two baskets

Every woman is born with a set of eggs in her ovaries opposed to men who produce new sperm every 90 days. You can have as many as 7 million eggs in your ovaries when you are born.

3. Eggs decline over time

Although you are born with millions of eggs they will diminish over time so you end up with around 700,000 by the time you hit puberty. Each month you continue to lose eggs, at the point of menopause you will have approximately less than 1000 eggs remaining. Opposed to common misconception neither pregnancy nor hormonal contraception slows the monthly recruitment and loss of eggs down.

4. You release an egg every cycle

For most women the body initiates ovulation every cycle, which is when you have a positive LH test – it indicates your body is getting ready for ovulation. But some women have the potential to release two eggs during one cycle, one per ovary, which is how fraternal twins are made. This is only possible within a 24 hour period.

Women who take hormonal contraception do not release an egg every cycle, as it inhibits ovulation. This is how pregnancy is prevented – if there is no egg to meet the sperm you cannot get pregnant. A regular cycle without ovulation is known as an anovulatory cycle.

5. An egg has a short lifespan after ovulation

Once released, an egg can only be fertilised over the next 12-24 hours. Sperm, on the other hand, can live up to 5 days if the sperm encounters the right environment. Natural Cycles takes these factors into account when calculating your fertile days.

 

 

Your Natural Cycles team

Source:http://natural-fertility-info.com/facts-about-the-female-egg.html

3 ways exercise can affect your menstrual cycle.

January is the time where we like to hit the ground running when it comes to exercising. It’s great for the mind and body on so many different levels, but did you know that it could also be connected to the ups and downs of your menstrual cycle? Here’s a closer look at how exercise can affect your menstrual cycle and periods.

1.Relieve PMS symptoms and cramps

Exercise is just one of the things that may just relieve those aching symptoms so many women experience around that time of the month. We know the feeling of wanting to crawl up into a ball for the week but getting your heart pumping might just give you the boost you need. Read more on relieving PMS here.

2.Induce period

Cycle irregularities are more common than you might think, and period delays can be caused by numerous reasons. One major factor that tends to cause irregularities is stress. Exercising will not only reduce stress levels but may just be the movement and circulation your body needs to get that flow going.

3.Keep the balance

Exercising takes a lot of energy, and although it hosts many benefits excessive exercise can also take a toll. If body mass drops very low it may cause a loss of ovulation and periods. Similarly, an increased level of body mass can cause cycle irregularities. It’s all about keeping the balance right.

Sources: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3748549/

http://www.empowher.com/menstrual-cycle/content/3-ways-exercise-affects-your-period?page=0,1

http://www.md-health.com/How-To-Induce-Your-Period.html

What can help you relieve PMS?

Mood swings, fatigue and cramps are just some of the recurring symptoms of discomfort that many women experience just before their periods arrive. In our previous blog post we talked more about common PMS symptoms.

So what can you do to relieve these aching symptoms? We have found that certain lifestyle and dietary changes could just do the trick.

what can help you relieve PMS?

1. Exercise

Although you literally feel like crawling up into a ball and not moving from the couch for those couple of days, do your best to make yourself go out and exercise – at times when you feel like you have the least energy, exercise will give you the necessary boost you need.

A study carried out amongst non-athlete girls has shown that after 8 weeks of regular aerobic exercise PMS symptoms were reduced and that this can be used as a means of treatment. Aerobic exercises include walking, swimming, cycling, swimming – but pretty much anything that increases your heart rate and lung function is great.

2. Dietary changes

Reduce fat, salt and sugar. During your time of the month it’s best to keep your blood sugar levels stable. You can do this by not only eating healthier but eating six small meals a day rather than three big ones. We know that PMS can have you craving all of these unhealthy foods, but do your best to stock up on healthy yummy options like whole wheat goods, leafy greens, dark chocolate, yoghurt, nuts and fruit and keeping junk intake minimal. You might also want to consider avoiding caffeine and alcohol if you’re affected by symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia and depression.

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3. Orgasms

When you orgasm the blood flow in the uterus increases, which can relieve cramps during periods. Not only that, the chemicals that are released in your brain when you orgasm are a natural pain killer. So next time when you reach for painkillers on your bedside table, consider turning over to your partner instead 😉

 

4. Reduce stress and relax

Stress is known to have a negative effect on your time of the month, so get enough sleep and try out some exercises like deep breathing, treat yourself to a massage once a month or do some yoga and meditation to relax the mind.

 

5. Take note of your symptoms

Since every woman and every cycle is different you can use the Natural Cycles app to chart your symptoms and take note of when they were significantly worse or better, that way you can get to know your body and what triggers worse PMS symptoms or relieves them better.

Mild to moderate symptoms are quite common amongst women but if they begin to interfere with your daily life you should seek some medical advice, as it is possible that you may be suffering under a medical condition.

Hope this helps ladies! What has helped you relieve PMS symptoms? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

If you haven’t started yet, sign up and track your fertility today.

sugnup

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3748549/

https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq057.pdf

https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.html

5 signs you’re ovulating.

When tracking your fertility, you might notice some changes in mood or your body throughout the different phases of your cycles. This week we want to talk about what signs you may experience when your body is telling you that ovulation is coming up. You might have already experienced a few of these, and others may be new to you. Let’s take a look!

1. Your Basal Body Temperature.

As a Cycler you know that your basal body temperature rises after ovulation, since the hormone progesterone is released and warms up your body. Keeping track of your basal body temperature is therefore a perfect way of knowing where you are in your cycle! If ovulation has occurred your temperature will remain elevated for a few days, but will then drop again just before or during menstruation as long as the egg has not been fertilised.

2. Ovulation pain aka Mittelschmerz.

Around 20% of women feel pain when they are ovulating, this is also called ‘mittelschmerz’ in medical terms (which means ‘middle pain’). What could cause mittelschmerz is our follicles swelling in the ovary before ovulation happens, which may cause pain when the egg is released. Another reason may be irritation on the peritoneum since it releases some blood and fluids from the ruptured follicle – which is why some women experience a few drops of blood (spotting) during ovulation. Another reason is that the fallopian tubes constrict after ovulation, which can cause some pain.

3. Higher sex drive.

Some women experience higher sex drive days before and during ovulation. This is the mother nature’s way of encouraging us to reproduce 😉

4. Higher sense of smell and taste.

Since the levels of hormones change, it can influence our senses of smell and taste. For some, even taste or vision get heightened around ovulation.

5. Cervical fluid

You might have noticed, that your cervical fluids change throughout the cycle. On the most fertile days, your cervical fluid becomes very slippery and a see-through consistency. Around ovulation you will have a lot more of this and might notice it when you visit the loo. 

These are just some of the signs that women experience around ovulation, but everyone is different. Have you experienced any of these symptoms or others? Please do let us know in the comments below.

 

If you want to find out when you ovulate and when your most fertile days are, sign up for Natural Cycles and get to know your body today.

fertiledays

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20040609/sex-heats-up-around-womens-ovulation-date?page=2

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/982.aspx?CategoryID=60

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299419/

Let’s talk about PMS!

When does PMS occur?

About one week before your period begins you may experience some premenstrual symptoms which include both emotional and physical symptoms that can go anywhere from acne and physical pains to feeling very tired.  By knowing when your period is due, you will know approximately when to expect PMS. 

monthlyreviewperiodiscoming

Who suffers from PMS?

Every woman and every menstrual cycle is different and PMS symptoms can vary hugely from one person to the next. A study from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has shown that around 85% of women suffer under at least one PMS symptom. While some women only experience slight discomfort, others are hugely affected.  We feel you ladies, so we want to discuss PMS and some common symptoms.

What are common PMS symptoms?  

It is said that the changes in hormone levels and chemicals within the brain have an affect on periods. However, specific reasoning is unknown. These are the most common symptoms and what you should look out for:

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Mood swings and irritability or anger
  • Crying spells
  • Appetite changes and food cravings
  • Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor concentration
  • Tension or anxiety
  • Depressed mood

Physical Symptoms:

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain related to fluid retention
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Constipation or diarrhea

How can Natural Cycles help with your PMS?

Because these symptoms can be pretty tough to deal with, Natural Cycles will give you a heads-up when you may experience PMS symptoms next. As the app gets to know your body you will receive a personal message once it recognises that your period is due. That way you can always plan ahead and sudden symptoms or the arrival of ‘aunt flow’ or PMS won’t come unexpectedly anymore.

periodisduepms

Try out Natural Cycles yourself and always know where you’re at in your cycle!
sugnup

 

Sources:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/basics/symptoms/con-20020003

5 things that can cause an irregular cycle

One of the best things about Natural Cycles is that you get to know your body and your cycles. The more data and the longer you use Natural Cycles, the better the app gets to know you. We’re all a bit irregular but with Natural Cycles you will find out exactly how irregular your cycles are and how your cycles compare with other Cyclers. This is useful information for you to know because you will get a better overview over your cycles and mood, and at the same time you will know when your period will be due. If you want to plan a pregnancy in the future it might be even more useful to know more about your cycles and when you ovulate.

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Except for the natural irregularities that every woman has, we’ve listed 5 things that may cause an irregular cycle:

 

1. Stressful / irregular lifestyle

Hard training, significant weight loss or weight gain, stress and traveling can result in irregular periods.

 

2. PCOS

Around 5-10% of all women experience irregular periods due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. In women with PCOS, the ovaries make more androgens than normal, which affects the development and release of eggs during ovulation. Therefore, women with PCOS often experience anovulatory cycles where ovulation does not occur. This means that the hormone progesterone is not made and without progesterone, a woman’s menstrual cycle is irregular or absent. Read more about how you can use Natural Cycles with PCOS here.

 

 

3. After hormonal contraception.

If you have recently been on hormonal contraception, it is likely that your cycle will be out of balance and irregular. It is very individual for how long your cycles will be irregular but some of our Cyclers have experienced irregular cycles up to a year.

 

 

4. After pregnancy

Even though pregnancy isn’t the same as being on hormonal contraception, the hormones from the pregnancy have a similar effect on your cycle to start, it can be irregular a while before it stabilizes.

 

 

5. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is where the lining of blood is also found outside your uterus. Areas that are most commonly involved are your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. 10% of women worldwide have endometriosis – that’s 176 million worldwide. What it can cause  is irregular and very painful periods. Read more about endometriosis here. 
Let us know if you have any questions and read more about irregular cycles and Natural Cycles!
Best
The Natural Cycles Team

Temperature fluctuations

A woman’s basal body temperature fluctuates daily, some days more than others. Changes in behaviour can cause fluctuations as well – for example, change in sleeping habits, travel or sickness can cause basal body temperature to fluctuate. This can cause the Natural Cycles algorithm to take longer to understand where you are in your cycle. Let’s read more about these potential temperature triggers!


Change in amount of sleep

Some of our Cyclers are taking care of an infant, other’s work odd hour jobs, while others have irregular sleeping schedules. Natural Cycles can work for everyone, it’s just a matter of what kind of sleeping schedule your body is used to. 
For those working odd hour jobs, if you usually work two nights per week, we recommend you measure five days within the same time frame and skip the days you work nights. Then, measure the first day after switching to daytime. Try to measure within the same time frame (+-2 hours timeframe), as soon as you wake up. If you have a baby and need to wake up during the night often, we do recommend you to measure after your longest stretch of sleep, or at least three hours. 


Travel


If you travel within different time zones, skip measuring for couple of days so your body gets used to the change and then measure as usual.Always skip measuring if you get 2h more/less of sleep than usually.
If you think that your temperature still fluctuates keep measuring until you complete one cycle of measuring and adding data in the Natural Cycles app. (A cycle begins on the first day of menstruation and ends when your next menstruation comes.) That is the best way to spot a fluctuation. You will clearly see what is a fluctuation and what’s not. (See picture below.)

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This graph shows typical temperature fluctuations. There are temperatures that are too low to be in the luteal phase, and on the opposite too high temperature values in the follicle phase. Please check your statistic page to see how much your temperature usually varies in the different phases. 

temperature_inactivate

Inactivate temperatures through the history view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can deactivate outlier temperature measurements, which may give you better statistics. You can do so through the history view or by clicking  at a date in the monthly view.

 

We welcome emails from you – please reach out to us if you need help you with your chart!

 

Here you can find a video on how to measure your basal body temperature, and read more about how and when to measure your temperature.

Best,
The Natural Cycles Team

5 Facts About Ovulation

 

Whether you’re planning a pregnancy or tracking your fertility, understanding when you ovulate is key. This week we’ve gathered a couple of cool facts around ovulation that maybe you weren’t aware of. Find out below!

 1. The female egg cell is the biggest cell!

Most cells in our bodies cannot be seen without a microscope, but the female egg cell is big enough to be visible to the naked eye. Pretty cool!

eggcell2. Women are born with all the eggs that she will ever produce during her lifetime.

We are born with 1-2 million immature eggs (follicles) in our ovaries. Once a woman reaches puberty roughly 500 of these will mature into an egg cell that can be fertilized throughout our lifetime.  

3. The egg cell only lives 12-24 hours

Once released, an egg can only be fertilized over the next 12-24 hours. Sperm, on the other hand, can live up to 5 days if the sperm encounters the right environment.

4. Normally only 1 egg is released each ovulation.

However, some women have the potential to release two eggs during one cycle, one per ovary, which is how fraternal twins are made! This is only possible within a 24 hour period. Afterwards, ovulation is prevented by the high progesterone values in your body, which is what Natural Cycles detects in your temperature (rise of 0.2-0.45 °C).

naturalcycles_ovary5. You can get your period although no ovulation has occurred.

We see in our Cyclers’ data that around 5% of the cycles are in fact anovulatory – meaning that no ovulation has occurred. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about. The bleeding that follows is then due to the estrogen rising, rather than the progesterone decreasing, and is thus not exactly the same as a normal menstruation.

This was all for now Cyclers!
Please comment if you have any questions and read more in our support portal ask.naturalcycles.com.

LH – Luteinizing hormone

 

The hormones in our body changes during the menstrual cycle, generating different reactions in the body. LH stands for luteinizing hormone and it plays an important role during our menstrual cycle. We always have a certain amount of LH in our bodies, and a surge occurs 1-3 days before ovulation when the amount of LH increases. Therefore detecting the LH-surge means that the body is initiating an ovulation.

Graph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got positive LH-tests but Natural Cycles did not confirm my ovulation?

What is important to remember is that positive LH-test does not confirm the ovulation, it only means that it is likely that your body will initiate ovulation soon. Sometimes LH is released but no ovulation happens. If ovulation doesn’t happen, then no progesterone is released and our temperature stays low. Without the increase in progesterone, there is nothing preventing ovulation to happen in the future.

Positive LH-tests must therefore be followed by a rise in temperature (due to progesterone being released) for Natural Cycles to confirm ovulation. So if you get positive LH-tests, it’s important to keep measuring your temperature to check that it does indeed rise some days later!

 


Ovulation is confirmed in the Natural Cycles app even if I only get negative LH-tests?

Natural Cycles can confirm your ovulation even if you enter negative LH-tests. This is because negative LH-tests does not mean that you will not ovulate – perhaps you have ovulation on the same day that you measured for LH! Or maybe you tested for LH after drinking a lot of fluid which made LH in your urine less concentrated.

We recommend to measure LH between 10am-8pm, and use concentrated urine (i.e. make sure you haven’t visited the bathroom or taken in a lot of fluids the 2 hours prior to testing). Read more here about measuring LH.

 

LHStick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does it look in the Natural Cycles app?

The Natural Cycles app will indicate when it’s time to take an LH test in both today’s, weekly and monthly prognosis. (See video below.) If you just started with Natural Cycles after quitting the pill, or if you have very irregular cycles, the app might need to get to know you a bit better before indicating which days to test for LH. This is to avoid for you to have to take a lot of LH tests in one cycle. If that happens, it’s important to keep measuring your temperature! 🙂

 

 


Read more about LH in our support portal ask.naturalcycles.com and look up our Q&A with #AskNaturalCycles on social media!

Best
The Natural Cycles Team

 

The new ovulation pictogram

With the release of the 2.0 version of our app we made a lot of visual changes. The reasons for these are plentiful, one of them is that we want to be more educational. Our goal is that our cyclers will learn more about their body from using the application. This will become even more apparent in future releases but a very clear example is the design of the new ovulation pictogram.

The ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries, so the obvious symbol to represent this is an egg. But not any egg, the human egg. Let it be known that the human egg—or ovum—does not look anything like a chicken egg, nor a grain of rice. To make it simple, the ovum is and looks like a cell. A roundish shape, approximately 0.12 mm in diameter, consisting of—among other things—an outer membrane and a nucleus. This is what the new ovulation pictogram depicts. You can see a picture of a real ovum below along with our previous and new pictogram. Note that a pictogram is intended to work in black and white, in small sizes and to be clearly visible even if viewed at a distance.

We are hopeful that our new pictogram will remind and/or educate cyclers and their partners on what the ovum is. Even in its simplified appearance. 

egg