What Is the Connection between Luteinizing Hormone and Ovulation?

N. Madison

The connection between luteinizing hormone and ovulation is a critical one. Though varying amounts of this hormone are typically present in the body at all times, the amount of luteinizing hormone surges upward about a day or two before a woman ovulates. This surge works to stimulate the release of a mature egg from an ovary in a process called ovulation. Since luteinizing hormone is one of the body's signals that ovulation is approaching, it is also the hormone for which women test when they are using ovulation predictor kits. By testing for a surge of this hormone, many women are able to determine whether they are likely to ovulate within the next 12 to 48 hours or so.

During the follicular phase of a woman's menstrual cycle the body works to prepare for ovulation.
During the follicular phase of a woman's menstrual cycle the body works to prepare for ovulation.

There are many hormones that are involved as the body prepares for pregnancy and works to release an egg for fertilization, a process called ovulation. One of the most important hormones for this process is called luteinizing hormone. This hormone is usually present in varying amounts in a woman's body throughout her entire menstrual cycle. When a woman is ready to ovulate, however, this is when the connection between luteinizing hormone and ovulation becomes abundantly clear.

Luteinizing hormone levels rise just before ovulation.
Luteinizing hormone levels rise just before ovulation.

When people discuss the connection between luteinizing hormone and ovulation, they are usually talking about a woman's luteinizing hormone surge. During the follicular, or egg maturation, phase of a woman's menstrual cycle, the body works to prepare for ovulation. Various processes occur during this phase, and eventually estrogen, another important hormone, peaks. Soon after this, the pituitary gland, a small gland important in hormone production, produces a surge, or noticeable peak, in the amount of luteinizing hormone in her body. This stimulates the woman's body to ovulate, and most women's ovaries will release eggs approximately 12 to 48 hours following this surge.

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The connection between luteinizing hormone and ovulation is often used for predicting ovulation. For example, some women use ovulation predictor kits when they are trying to conceive. These kits detect the surge of luteinizing hormone by measuring the amount of the hormone that is secreted in a woman's urine. Once the woman receives a positive test using an ovulation predictor kit, she knows ovulation will likely occur in the next day or two, and she can focus her efforts on timing sexual activity in the hopes of conceiving. If the woman who is trying to conceive has enlisted the help of her doctor, he may also perform a blood test to detect this peak.

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