Most people who track their menstrual cycles notice that sex drive tends to increase during the days before they ovulate. This is called your fertile window, and it’s when sperm have the best chance of fertilizing an egg.
A recent study found that men also find women more attractive around ovulation. It’s thought that this is due to a combination of decreased cortisol levels and increased testosterone.
1. Increased Libido
It’s normal to feel more interested in sex midway through your menstrual cycle, especially as you get closer to ovulation. This is because during the follicular phase, estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) increase in your body, triggering a rise in sexual desire. During this time, you’re also fertile and it’s possible to conceive.
While scientists have yet to fully understand what makes up a person’s libido, they know that both hormones and physical health factors contribute to it. When you’re ovulating, your libido may spike due to increased testosterone and oestrogen levels. However, other factors can also cause this, such as getting enough sleep, feeling well-rested, starting a new relationship, or even eating healthy foods.
Another factor that can affect your libido is the day of the week on which you ovulate. It’s common to have a peak in sexual desire on the weekend as opposed to during the week. This is probably due to the fact that many women are off work and have more free time on the weekends.
If you find yourself wanting to have sex more often during this time, try using a vaginal lubricant or engaging in mutual masturbation, which can be just as arousing. And if you’re trying to conceive, consider tracking your menstrual cycle and planning sex during your fertile window.
2. Changes in Vaginal Secretions
The cervix produces cervical mucus throughout your menstrual cycle, and it can change in consistency depending on when you’re ovulating. Immediately before and during ovulation, it will feel wetter, and the mucus will be slippery. It will also look a bit like hand lotion and may have a white or yellowish hue to it. This is because estrogen is peaking during these days (5).
If you pay attention to your cervical mucus on a daily basis, you can tell when you’re close to ovulation. You can do this by putting your finger into your vagina, getting as close to the cervix as possible (it feels round and firm, kind of like the tip of your nose), then checking on the consistency of the mucus. It should be thick and sticky, or rubbery and springy if you’re close to your ovulation window.
You can also use a vaginal thermometer to find out when you’re ovulating. Some people also track their menstrual cycles using calendars or apps.
Another thing to note is that your breasts can change in sensitivity and feel different at certain times of the month, too. Some women, for example, have cyclical mastalgia, which causes them to be more sensitive to touch in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle (about ten or eleven days before they start their period) (18).
3. Changes in Cervical Position
The cervix, which is the entrance to your uterus and feels like a tiny doughnut or ball high in the vagina, can feel different at various times during the menstrual cycle. This is due to changes in the level of estrogen, which causes the cervix to rise and be more open during your fertile window, and then quickly close once ovulation occurs.
Many women who want to conceive learn how to track their ovulation using methods such as charting cervical mucus and basal body temperatures. However, if you find these to be too tedious or unreliable (not to mention that every woman’s menstrual cycle is a little different), simply checking the position of your cervix may help.
During the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, just before ovulation, the cervix will be soft, high and wet. It’s the most fertile time of your cycle. After ovulation, the cervix becomes harder and feels more like the tip of your nose. Then, it quickly closes to prevent pregnancy. You can easily check the cervix by inserting your finger into your vagina to reach your first knuckle. Checking your cervix is not something you can master the first time or even the second, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very useful for those trying to conceive. It is also a good way to avoid discomfort during sex, such as dyspareunia, which can be caused by not using enough sexual lubrication or by deep thrusting or sex positions that are too uncomfortable.
4. Increased Arousal
During the days leading up to and during ovulation, some women report increased sexual desire. This is believed to be a result of the surge in estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) that takes place during this time. These hormones are responsible for the high fertility that comes with ovulation, so it makes sense that we’d feel more horny during this time.
It’s also common for nipples and breasts to feel tender, sore, or sensitive during this part of the menstrual cycle. This is a part of the follicular phase and can occur ten or eleven days before your period begins. It’s thought that these changes in sensitivity are an evolutionary response designed to increase your chances of reproducing.
However, it is possible that sex may not feel different during ovulation for some people. It can often depend on whether or not you use hormonal birth control, which can disrupt your hormones. Additionally, other factors like stress, relationship issues, or pregnancy can influence your sex drive.
During ovulation, it’s important to try not to overdo it with the sexual activities. Overdoing it during this time can lead to ovulation pain, or dyspareunia. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help to alleviate the pain. Some women also find that laying down during penetration (such as doing the woman-on-top position) can ease discomfort.