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How Do Hormones Cause Ovulation?

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Updated October 19, 2009

How Do Hormones Cause Ovulation?

Ovulation

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey
Question: How Do Hormones Cause Ovulation?
Answer:

To answer this question, let’s take a quick look at what is normally going on inside the female body each month.

The Starting Place:

The Follicle Stimulating Hormone:

  • The FSH then makes the journey to the female's ovaries (via the bloodstream)
  • Once it arrives, it initiates the growth of a follicle

The Role of the Follicle:

  • When the follicle develops, it generates estrogen
  • After about 10 days, the estrogen levels reach high numbers
  • The estrogen levels peak approximately 1 day before ovulation (typically, this is day 13 in a standard 28 day cycle)
  • This peak elicits a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland.

The LH Surge:

  • This surge acts a cue to the ovarian follicle
  • About 36 hours later, a mature egg is released into the fallopian tube
  • The egg leaves behind the corpus luteum (the empty follicle)

The Corpus Luteum:

  • The cells of the corpus luteum then produce progesterone and estrogen
  • Together, these two hormones stimulate the uterine lining to thicken with blood
  • This is done to prepare the uterus walls for nurturing a fertilized egg

The Shrinking of the Corpus Luteum:

  • The corpus luteum will begin to diminish
  • This leaves the uterine lining with no hormonal support
  • The lining will begin to shed off
  • The female's monthly period begins

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