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Hormonal Contraception: Understanding Ovulation
While the universe started with the Big Crash, the human being started with the ovulation. And that is the ovulation that determines human existence. The essence of this process is not quite clear at times and brings up confusion. This point is essential for women who are choosing the methods of contraception. Aside of using various options of birth control, it is important to know what happens in woman’s body in its monthly cycle and what mechanisms are taken into consideration while contraceptives work.
Let’s take a closer look at the ovulation so there are no more confusions and doubts about the processes in the most important system of woman’s body.
Ovulation is the part of the menstrual cycle in which a mature follicle breaks and releases the egg. It usually starts on the 14th day of the menstrual cycle (counting from the very first day of the last period), with variations between 11th and 21st day in some women. The process itself is rather complicated and starts, as you may have not suspected, in the brain. Hypothalamus sends the signals to the pituitary gland to send out the FSH, the follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone is responsible for the developing of the follicles into mature eggs. Only one follicle will be later dominating and will release the egg.
After the egg matures, other follicles will signify of that to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland by releasing the hormone called estrogen. When the sufficient amount of this hormone is produced (on 12th-18th day of the cycle), the most mature follicle bursts out the mature egg into the fallopian tubes. The follicle that has released the egg now produces progesterone, another hormone that works on preventing the release of the other eggs during this cycle.
Meanwhile, the egg wanders in the fallopian tubes and if it was fertilized, it gets to the uterus in about a week. And there, in the uterine lining, the fetus begins to develop. If the egg is not fertilized, it gets absorbed with the body within 24 hours after leaving the ovary or is passed out with the menstrual flow.
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Modern hormonal contraception is based on the interference with the ovulation. The aim of any hormonal contraception is to suppress the action of hormones responsible for the ovulation.
Since they are based on synthetically produced progestin and estrogen, their action may result in no signal to the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to produce FSH and the LH, hormone responsible for the egg release (luteinizing hormone). Hence – no triggers will to cause the egg production and release.
But remember that hormonal contraception has a number of side effects, so it should be considered together with your health care provider.

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