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Let’s Talk About Ovulation with Dr. Debbie Collins

By November 26, 2020April 7th, 2021No Comments

As a GP, I frequently deal with fertility concerns and menstrual disorders. We can all too often become focused on what may be wrong and in turn, we overlook what may be normal. So reviewing the basics is an important place to start!

It can be helpful when thinking about trying to conceive that you have some understanding of your menstrual cycle. Most people spend a significant proportion of their lives trying not to get pregnant and when the time actually arrives when you start thinking about trying to conceive, it can be a surprise for many to know it’s not as easy as you may think! Figures vary on monthly pregnancy rates but it is felt to be in the region of 15-25% chance in any one month. Around 84% of couples who are trying to conceive will fall pregnant within a year of regular intercourse. If you haven’t already, check out the Nua ovulation calculator to estimate when your ‘fertile window’ may be.

So let’s talk about ovulation!

Ovulation involves the monthly release of an egg from the ovary. The menstrual cycle allows for ovulation to occur. Ovulation is essential for egg release and requires hence fertilization by sperm to result in pregnancy. It is regulated by hormones released from the pituitary gland (about the size of a pea at the base of the brain) to relay signals to the ovaries telling them when to release an egg.

The menstrual cycle has four phases: Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulatory, And Luteal.

The brain releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This causes several follicles in the ovary to mature. Usually only one dominant follicle is able to survive and continue to grow. This maturing follicle produces a form of oestrogen. This stimulates the brain to increase production of Luteinizing hormone (LH). The peak of LH leads to rupture of the ripe follicle. This is ovulation. The egg is released into the fallopian tube. An egg survives on average 12-24 hours. It needs to be fertilized by sperm within this timeframe for pregnancy to occur. This occurs in the fallopian tube. The egg then moves into the uterus. When it has reached the uterus a fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall. If pregnancy doesn’t occur the egg is passed out during menstruation. Declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone result in the lining of the womb coming away and a period occurs.

The duration of the menstrual cycle can be regular for many people but for some this process can occur on a more irregular basis. The average duration is around 28 days but can vary from 21 to 40 days.

How can I tell when I’m ovulating?

Ovulation tends to occur 10-16 days before your period starts. Changes to cervical mucus can be seen. It becomes thinner and clearer, this is to allow sperm to swim more easily to reach the egg in the fallopian tube.

There are various investigations which can be carried out to detect ovulation. The standard test would be Day 21 progesterone which is a simple blood test that can be carried out by your GP. Other methods include ultrasound follicular tracking, temperature charts, and LH based urine predictor kits.

A combination of methods is felt to give a more accurate indication.

Sperm can live up to 7 days in woman’s body so if you have had sex in the days leading up to ovulation the sperm will be waiting to fertilise the egg. Having sex every 2-3 days in the month is felt to enhance the chances of pregnancy

What can affect ovulation?

Some problems with fertility stop ovulation occurring while others impact on egg release in some cycles but not others. Below is a list of some conditions which can result in issues with ovulation.

  • PCOS – Polycystic ovarian syndrome (Here at Nua fertility we love all things gut health and there is emerging evidence of the role of gut health in the management of PCOS!)
  • Thyroid problems – both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
  • Premature ovarian insufficiency – the loss of normal ovarian function before the age of 40
  • Hyperprolactinaemia – abnormally high levels of prolactin hormone.

If you are experiencing problems with your periods or are having difficulties trying to conceive, talking with your GP is a good place to start to review your history, carryout initial blood tests and make a plan for the next steps in your fertility journey.

Ovulation Calculator

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Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists

 

Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins

MBBchBAO MRCGP

 

Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist

 

Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists

 

Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife

 

Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic

 

Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Jill Martin

Business Development Director

 

Jill Martin is a trained nurse and highly experienced pharmaceutical professional. Most of her business acumen and skills were developed by the world class training she received at Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK). Hard work and focus have resulted in a varied and successful career working in several different disease areas. As part of the Diabetes team at GSK, an opportunity arose to develop and support education programmes that were rolled out to the NHS across the UK, which resulted in improvement of Strategy and Patient Care. Jill feels that education is the key to understanding and has made it a personal goal to self-improve and support learning for others especially within the healthcare arena. The last 10 years have been devoted to trying to impart the importance of Fertility Health early in the life cycle of us all, rather than when infertility issues arise. She is delighted to have joined Nua Fertility on their mission to support people and communities to understand the importance of gut health on our fertility well-being.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

The most important thing to me in life are family and friends, it breaks my heart when people are broken and I know that I am always trying to find solutions to problems. I love being outside rather than sitting at a desk and would rather lift the phone and have a chat with someone rather than email or message. I find people interesting and will often be that annoying person who starts a conversation on a train or plane.
 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

I feel very blessed to have had my family naturally, although not without some challenges. Following a miscarriage and thyroid issues conception wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped. My personal experience made me appreciate how important it is to value ways to improve your fertility health. This set me on my own journey to find out more, by surrounding myself with a network of experts in this area who I am continually learning from. When possible I take every opportunity to share best practice or send information to others that I know who are also seeking to understand more.
 

What is your ideal way to relax and unwind?

Juggling home life and working full time with a lot of travel, for most of my adult life made me find a way to relax that may seem strange. I love getting my trainers on and going for a long walk or run, even in the rain! Sometimes I will listen to a podcast and other times just be mindful of my surroundings. I find this a great way to clear my head, think about priorities and take time out for myself.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be.

From an early age I loved to make jigsaws, little did I know that this skill would help me later in life to understand the complexity of fertility and the miracle of life. Everyone is unique, every situation is different, like a jigsaw there are lots of pieces that need to be put together to become complete. Explore all options, chat to experts don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer

 

Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!
 

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.
 

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.
 

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.