If You're Feeling Exhausted During Ovulation, Here's What's Really Happening
If you track your cycle and ovulation date, you've probably noticed specific changes. Maybe your weight or skin or mood fluctuates, or maybe you're more energetic when ovulating. Fatigue during ovulation isn't unheard of, and neither is feeling like staying in bed all day when this is happening. Even if you’re not exactly tired during ovulation, the cramps and mood swings are enough to make you want to pull the blankets over your head for the foreseeable future.
But can ovulation make you sleepy? Your body is hard at work releasing an egg, after all. As it turns out, the reasons you may be tired during ovulation aren’t super straightforward, but getting to the root of what causes your fatigue could help you learn more about your body. The more familiar you are with your cycle, the better you can sync up your routines and plan your productivity and activities — aka cycle syncing. For example, when you’re aware of when you’ll have less energy (and why) at a certain point during your menstrual cycle, you can make decisions that will align with your energy levels during that time, like swapping that scheduled HIIT training day for a relaxing yoga routine instead.
Sound like a magical life hack? Here is everything you need to know about fatigue during ovulation so you can make the most of your cycle.
Does Ovulation Make You Sleepy?
"No, ovulation doesn't make you feel sleepy," Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, M.D., OB/GYN, tells Romper simply. Most of the scientific evidence and research surrounds insomnia during your premenstrual time, which, incidentally, begins right after ovulation.
At this point, your progesterone levels are rising and you'll have drops in your melatonin and cortisol levels, all of which are involved in your sleep-wake cycle and can contribute to tiredness. While melatonin has sleep-inducing qualities, cortisol is largely responsible for keeping you awake. So, drops in both of these hormones can lead to extra fatigue and inability to sleep. “Estrogen, which is a good-feeling energetic hormone [involved in] the menstrual cycle, decreases right before ovulation, also contributing to feeling more fatigue during ovulation,” board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Sherry Ross, M.D., tells Romper. Your internal body temperature is also slightly higher at this point in your cycle, which could be causing additional restlessness.
Potential Reasons For Fatigue During Ovulation
That said, you’re not alone if you feel sleepier during ovulation. "Each woman is very different, and [so is] what she feels around the time of ovulation,” Dr. Julie Lamb, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, tells Romper. “In addition to feeling a twinge, a woman can have light spotting, or she can experience headache, fatigue, or nausea. It is not uncommon to feel nothing at all."
Aside from the hormonal changes, other reasons for fatigue during ovulation include “anemia, thyroid dysfunction, and peri-menopausal hormonal changes,” Ross explains. “The effect of estrogen decreasing with aging also increases the feeling of fatigue over time. Also, menopausal women are more prone to feeling sleepy with declining estrogen levels.”
Yet another reason why you might be extra tired around ovulation: Your partner is super hot. A 2014 study in PLoS ONE found that women who "rated their partners as being more attractive got less sleep when they were most fertile, while women who said their partners were less attractive scored more sleep." Researchers theorized that women with more attractive partners get less rest because they're "trying to stay up and have more sex (and potentially make a baby)," while those who aren't so attracted to their partners might not be so preoccupied with baby-making, "so there's no reason to lose quality sleep time." Who knew?
Fatigue notwithstanding, there are some other symptoms surrounding ovulation that can be uncomfortable. "The classic symptom of cramping or temporary sharp pain around the time of ovulation has a name: Mittelschmerz pain (German for 'middle pain'), [and it’s] thought to come from the ovary releasing the egg," Dr. Adam Wolfberg, M.D., OB/GYN, tells Romper. "This is the most common symptom [of ovulation], as the other classic cycle [menstrual] symptoms — mood alterations, breast tenderness, persistent cramping — tend to occur in the second half of the cycle and constitute PMS or its more severe cousin, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).”
If you are having continuous trouble sleeping or experiencing excess fatigue or pain, be sure to bring it up with your doctor to rule out any additional health issues that could be impacting your hormones. Tracking and charting your menstrual cycle will help you understand how your body changes throughout your own specific cycle. Creating good sleep habits can also help significantly during those times where sleep might be a bit more elusive.
"Changes in Sleep Time and Sleep Quality across the Ovulatory Cycle as a Function of Fertility and Partner Attractiveness" (B. Gentle, E. Pillsworth, A. Goetz, 2014) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3977843/
Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Julie Lamb, M.D., board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist
Dr. Adam Wolfberg, M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Sherry Ross, M.D., OB/GYN, women’s health expert, author of She-ology, and co-founder of URJA Intimates skin care
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