In the Mood? You May Be Ovulating!

Sexual Desire, a Woman's Menstrual Cycle, and Conception

Couple in bed having fun
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Have you ever noticed that your sex drive is stronger at certain times in the month? If you were tracking your cycle, you'd likely discover those urges are highest just before you ovulate. The hormones that increase during the fertile window (just before ovulation) are responsible for that libido boost.

Nature wants you to get pregnant, and it knows how to get you in the mood! Not only does your sexual desire increase when you're most fertile, but your partner is likely to feel more attracted towards you during that time.

 

When Does Your Libido Peak Before Ovulation?

Your fertile window—that's the time in which you can conceive—lasts for about seven days each month. However, sex on the far ends of that spectrum is less likely to get you pregnant. 

Your most fertile days are the three days leading up to ovulation. Three days before ovulation, your odds are between 8 and 23 percent. One day before ovulation, your odds are between 21 and 34 percent.

But when does your ovulatory-based sexual desire increase? One study found that the "sexual desire phase" lasted six days total.

According to the research, this phase started about three days before the hormone LH peaked. (In case you don't know, the hormone LH levels rise right before ovulation.) That means, if you followed your desires and had sex during those six days, you would be very likely to conceive.

Another research study asked women to track when they had sex over a period of 90 days.

The women provided urine samples every morning. The researchers were looking for changes in the hormone LH.

What the researchers discovered is kind of interesting.

Women were most likely to have sex when the LH levels were high. In fact, of all the days in their cycle, the day of the LH peak was the day when the most women had sexual intercourse.

This just happens to be your most fertile day of the month.

In yet another study, it was found that sexual desire peaked when estradiol levels were higher. Estrogen peaks just before ovulation.

When Are You Less Likely to Be In the Mood?

The hormones like LH and estradiol can indicate approaching ovulation and seem to be correlated to increase in sexual desire. But is there a time when your libido drops?

One study found that when the hormone progesterone was higher, sexual desire tended to be lower. Progesterone starts to increase just after ovulation and remains high until your period is due. Then, if pregnancy didn't occur, progesterone drops, and this triggers menstruation to begin.

So, if you find yourself feeling more turned on during the first half of your cycle, and less so during the second half, this may be why.

This is also why some women experience lowered libido when taking hormonal birth control pills, especially progesterone based ones. The birth control not only suppresses ovulation but also your natural desire for sex.

Why Does Your Sexual Desire Peak During Ovulation?

What causes the peak in desire? There are many possible factors. At the most basic level, hormones play a role in our emotions.

For example, if you have a hormonal imbalance, you may experience depression. Fertility drugs can also cause mood swings

Research has found that around ovulation, women report feeling less lonely. They may also have an increased sense of well-being. All of this can lead to increased libido.

Another possible cause for increased sexual desire is very physical. As mentioned above, just before ovulation, the hormones LH and estrogen peak. These hormones change the consistency and amount of cervical fluids (a healthy kind of vaginal discharge). In fact, one of the best ways to time sex for pregnancy is by checking cervical mucus changes.

This increase in cervical fluid leads to an increased sensation of vaginal wetness. That damp feeling increases desire.

Another reason is that ovulatory hormones increase blood flow to the pelvic region. This, too, puts you in the mood. 

Sexual Desire as an Ovulation Sign to Time Sex for Pregnancy

While checking cervical mucus or charting body basal temperatures are more reliable methods of detecting ovulation, our bodies seem to be programmed to have sex at the right time anyway.

You may be able to just follow your sexual desire signals when trying to time sex for pregnancy.

With all that said, sexual desire isn't always going to be an ovulation sign.

If you're stressed out or depressed, you may not get that boost in desire. Also, you can feel turned on for many reasons, besides ovulation. While high libido isn’t a sure sign of ovulation, it’s one that nature hopes you’ll notice.

Next time you’re in the mood for some hanky-panky, take that as a possible ovulation sign and head to the bedroom.

What if your libido is frequently low? Or something just doesn't feel right when it comes to your sexual desire levels? Talk to your doctor. Low libido can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Your doctor can use that information to help diagnose a fertility problem.

Sources:

Bullivant SB1, Sellergren SA, Stern K, Spencer NA, Jacob S, Mennella JA, McClintock MK. “Women's sexual experience during the menstrual cycle: identification of the sexual phase by noninvasive measurement of luteinizing hormone.” J Sex Res. 2004 Feb;41(1):82-93.

Hedricks C., Piccinino L. J., Udry J.R., Chimbira T.H. “Peak coital rate coincides with onset of luteinizing hormone surge.” Fertility and Sterility. Aug. 1987: 48(2):234-8.

Larson CM1, Haselton MG, Gildersleeve KA, Pillsworth EG. “Changes in women's feelings about their romantic relationships across the ovulatory cycle.” Horm Behav. 2013 Jan;63(1):128-35. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Dec 3.

Pillsworth EG1, Haselton MG, Buss DM. “Ovulatory shifts in female sexual desire.” J Sex Res. 2004 Feb;41(1):55-65.

Roney JR1, Simmons ZL. “Hormonal predictors of sexual motivation in natural menstrual cycles.” Horm Behav. 2013 Apr;63(4):636-45. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.02.013.

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