This week, the groundwork is laid for “The Big O”: ovulation, the all-important first step toward the making of the baby of your dreams. And like those dreams, the baby action is all in your head right now, where the hypothalamus, the control center in your brain, works with its partner in reproduction, the pituitary gland, to start releasing hormones. These hormones called FSH and LH prompt the ovaries to get cracking on some eggs, ripening one to maturity within its follicle. All this egg action causes the ovaries to crank up production of two other powerful hormones: estrogen and progesterone.
These hormones, the dynamic duo of the reproductive system, get the reproductive party in your uterus started, telling the uterus to thicken its lining, forming a blood-pumped cushion in anticipation of hosting a fertilized egg.
Midway through your menstrual cycle – around day fourteen if you have an average 28-day cycle – the dominant follicle in the ovary swells and then ruptures, releasing the mature egg of the month. That egg, the one with your baby’s name on it, bursts through the walls of the ovary and is immediately swept up into the fringed opening of the fallopian tube where it will take a six day odyssey down to the uterus. Ovulation has just occurred.