When it comes to your cycle, your period and all the things that go along with it—cramps, bloating, insane cravings for cheese fries—usually get all the attention.
But don't forget that other time of the month that comes with its own unique body symptoms: ovulation. This is that point in the middle of your cycle when high estrogen and rising progesterone levels prompt an egg to be released from your ovary and travel down the fallopian tube, where it waits to be fertilized by sperm.
The journey the egg takes is a pretty major event for your body, but that's not all that's going on. To prep you for pregnancy, those hormone surges also trigger a cascade of physical and mental changes, many of which are so subtle you may never have picked up on them. But doctors and researchers have, and you might be amazed by some of the hard-to-detect things going on when your body is baby-ready.
You sleep more . . . or less
Lots of things can throw off your regular sleep pattern. But when it happens in the middle of your cycle, ovulation just might be the culprit. In a study published in PLOS ONE, researchers analyzed monthly sleep diaries from female study subjects. Those 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.
What does your attraction to you partner have to do with it? It may be that during your most fertile time, you get less rest because you're trying to stay up and have more sex (and potentially make a baby) with a partner you're attracted to, the researchers theorize. But if you're not so into your significant other, you may not have babies on your mind, so there's no reason to lose quality sleep time.
To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter
You're in a sunshiny mood
Wait, are those birds singing? Feeling like you're in la-la land in the middle of your cycle is normal. For a study published earlier this year, researchers in Spain looked at two groups of women: one group that was on hormonal contraceptives and another group that was not and therefore ovulated regularly. When the researchers compared the two groups, they found that the women who had regular cycles experienced more positive emotions during ovulation compared to women on contraception mid-cycle.
“Specifically, women who ovulate self-report more enthusiasm, alertness, attentiveness and activity levels during those days, which could be conductive to attracting and engaging a potential mate,” the authors write. They go on to note that it may be because the limbic system in the brain is involved in governing both ovulation and emotions.
You're flirty—but only with certain guys
Even if you’re not considering becoming a mom anytime soon, your body may still be trying to push you toward specific partners with the right genes to pass on to your theoretical offspring. Research in Psychological Science noted that women who are ovulating act more flirtatious with men who have more markers of “genetic fitness,” such as attractiveness and masculinity.
Hmm, perhaps that explains why you were all over that hot guy in the weight room last week but now can't figure out what you ever saw in him?
RELATED: 10 Things That Mess With Your Period
Your boobs become more sensitive
Many women say that their nipples get ultra-sensitive when they're premenstrual or during their period. But this happens during ovulation as well, and there may be two possible reasons why. First, the sensitivity may stem from the fact that during ovulation, your sex drive is higher—and as a result, you might be having more sex. All the extra action could be making your breasts feel more tender, says Jane Nani, MD, of the Fertility Centers of Illinois.
But it also could be due to the hormonal surge around ovulation, which stimulates the glands in your breasts. No need to worry anything is wrong, but you might want to wear your most supportive sports bra to kickboxing class, so you don't leave the gym feeling achy and tender up top.