Ovulation feels good because it switches on hormones.
As your ovaries get ready to release an egg every month, they pump out estrogen. Estrogen stimulates serotonin, which is why you’re more outgoing and energetic in the few days leading up to ovulation.
What happens just after ovulation is even more interesting. That’s when your ovary (one of them) releases bucket-loads of progesterone—your calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory hormone.
Your ovary makes progesterone with a unique little gland called the corpus luteum (which forms from the emptied egg-sac). I love the corpus luteum. It is so brave and fabulous—and so fleeting. It has the lifespan of a butterfly (12-14 days). The gland forms very rapidly, going from nothing to a fully vascularized 4cm structure in less than one day. One researcher said this about the corpus luteum:
..there isn’t anywhere else in the body where you have to develop a tissue from scratch in such a short period of time and get a blood supply in so fast.
The high metabolism of the corpus luteum demands nutrients such as cholesterol, B-vitamins, coQ10, vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, and zinc. The gland has a particularly high requirement for the antioxidant selenium, which is why selenium is the nutrient for progesterone.
Your progesterone should continue for the final two weeks of your cycle, but you could have an occasional cycle when you don’t ovulate, which is called an anovulatory cycle.
Benefits beyond babies
Ovulation is important for fertility, of course, but it’s SO much more than that. Ovulation is the only way to make estradiol and progesterone, which are beneficial for mood, energy, libido, insulin response, thyroid, skin, hair, and so much more. Read The secret powers of ovulation (it’s not just for making a baby).
What if you don’t ovulate?
Luteal phase deficiency is the medical term for a problem with ovulation and the corpus luteum. If you do not form a corpus luteum, or if it does not survive its full 12-day lifespan, then you have progesterone deficiency which can cause heavy periods.
With luteal phase deficiency, you will not see a temperature rise on a basal body temperature chart, and your progesterone will be low on a blood test (< 8 ng/mL or 25 nmol/L). To be meaningful, the blood test must be done 5-9 days before the onset of your period. Please read The right way to test progesterone.
Tip: If you take hormonal birth control there is no point in testing progesterone. You have none.