Ovarian hormones, oestrogen, and progesterone are beneficial for health. This indicates natural ovulatory menstrual cycles are beneficial for health because ovulation is how women make hormones.
Men make testosterone every day, so you might think women do something similar, but we don’t. Instead, women make hormones as a surge of oestradiol leading up to ovulation and an even bigger surge of progesterone after ovulation.
It’s an elegant system that sometimes results in a baby. Even when ovulation does not result in a baby, it’s still worth doing because regular ovulation delivers the beneficial hormones that the body absolutely expects to have.
Benefits of ovulation
Every monthly dose of oestradiol promotes muscle gain, insulin sensitivity, and the long-term health of bones, brain, and the cardiovascular system.
Every monthly dose of progesterone reduces inflammation, regulates immune function, and supports the thyroid, brain, bones, and breast tissue.
The benefits of ovarian hormones are both short-term by making women stronger, and long-term by building metabolic reserve and health.
Obstacles to ovulation
Hormonal birth control
Hormonal birth control stops ovulation, which is, of course, its purpose. It switches off ovarian hormones and replaces them with contraceptive drugs like ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel which can cause hair loss and other side effects.
Tip: There’s no progesterone in any type of birth control.
The physiological difference between our actual hormones and the contraceptive drugs of birth control affects every system in the body. Compared to women who cycle, women who take contraceptive drugs have altered brain structure and a greater risk of depression and autoimmune disease.
Undereating (to include carbohydrates)
Losing ovulation and periods because of undereating is called hypothalamic amenorrhea. It’s not a disorder, but rather a smart, adaptive decision by the brain to pause reproduction when there’s not enough food to safely make a baby.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
The hormonal state of excess androgens or testosterone can cause anovulatory cycles (cycles with no ovulation) and is usually associated with insulin resistance. Reversing insulin resistance with diet, exercise, and natural supplements such as inositol can help to restore ovulation.
Tip: Before you embark on any kind of calorie-restricted or carb-restricted diet for PCOS, take care that your diagnosis was not based solely on an ultrasound or an AMH blood test. Those tests are not reliable and may have resulted in you being told you have PCOS when you actually have hypothalamic amenorrhea.
In conclusion, ovulation is so important for women of childbearing age, but not just to make a baby.