Ovulation – Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Ovulation – Here’s Everything You Need To Know

12 Feb 2022 | 14 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 625 Articles

Ovulation is a part of the menstrual cycle that women experience from the onset of puberty until menopause. It is a process in which the body releases an egg from an ovary in preparation for sperm to fertilise it.

Understanding how ovulation happens and when it takes place can help you conceive or prevent pregnancy. Besides, it can help you diagnose certain medical conditions.

Gone are the days when pregnancy was a matter of chance, good timing and perhaps some prayers. Today, technology tools like ovulation calendars have eliminated the guesswork.

We are here to talk about everything you need to know about ovulation.

What Is Ovulation?

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from a woman’s ovary. When the egg is released, it may or may not be fertilised by sperm.

If fertilised, the egg might travel to the uterus and implant to develop into a pregnancy. Whereas, if left unfertilized, the egg disintegrates and the uterine lining is shed during the period.

Check your Fertile Days on BabyChakra’s Ovulation calculator.

When Does Ovulation Occur?

In an average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation usually occurs about 14 days before the start of the next menstrual period.

However, each woman’s cycle length might be different. Plus, the time between ovulation and the start of the next menstrual period may also vary. 

If you don’t have a 28-day menstrual cycle like many women, you can determine the length of your cycle and when you’re most likely to ovulate by keeping a menstrual calendar.

How Long Does Ovulation Last?

What is the ovulation period? Here’s the answer

An egg can be fertilised between 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. The specific length of time that it takes for the egg to be released by the ovary and picked up by the fallopian tube varies. But it occurs 12 to 24 hours after a surge of the hormone LH.

What Happens During Ovulation?

During ovulation, the body produces the highest amounts of the hormone oestrogen.

This surge of hormones during the ovulation cycle causes the ovaries to release the egg into the fallopian tubes. The egg then travels through them towards the uterus. Oestrogen has already caused the uterus to thicken and prepares it for implantation.

Once the egg is released by the ovaries, the levels of oestrogen in the body begin to fall.

Signs And Symptoms of Ovulation

What are the ovulation symptoms? We have the answer to your question:

  • Cervical fluid (vaginal discharge) that looks like raw egg white
  • Decrease in basal body temperature, followed by a sharp increase after ovulation
  • Change in position of the cervix to being high, soft, and open

Some women also experience the following signs of ovulation:

  • Light spotting and light cramping or pain on one side of the pelvis
  • Tender breasts
  • Increased sex drive
  • Heightened sense of smell, taste, or vision

What Is Ovulation Pain?

It’s common to experience pain during ovulation. Research suggests that up to 40% of women who ovulate feel some discomfort around the midpoint of their menstrual cycle.

Such a condition is known as mittelschmerz, which means “middle pain” in German.

The pain can range from mild to severe and usually occurs each month. You would feel it on either the left or right side of the lower abdomen, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg that month.

Ovulation pain can range from mild to severe. | Image Source: pexels

Symptoms of Ovulation Pain

Ovulation pain might feel achy, or sharp like a cramp. Some of the symptoms of ovulation pain are:

  • Vaginal bleeding (light)
  • Nausea and vaginal discharge

When to See A Doctor?

You can consult a doctor if you experience severe pain. Pain during ovulation can be a sign of underlying conditions like – 

  • Scar tissue in the abdomen
  • Sexually transmitted infection

How does Ovulation Affect Fertility?

Women can usually get pregnant if they are having unprotected sex just before or during ovulation. It is likely for her to conceive if she has sex within a day or two of ovulation.

A woman can conceive if she has sex up to several days before ovulation because the sperm can swim up the fallopian tubes to wait for the ovaries to release the egg. | Image Source: freepik

However, it is also possible for women to become pregnant if they have sex up to several days before ovulation. This is so because the sperm can swim up the fallopian tubes to wait for the ovaries to release the egg.

The fertility awareness methods, which people might also know as natural family planning or the rhythm method, can help people plan their sexual activity around their ovulation.

How to Track Ovulation?

There are different ways in which you can track your ovulation to determine when you are most fertile:

  • The cervical mucus method in which you can check the vaginal discharge each day
  • The calendar method in which you can note the menstrual cycle on a calendar
  • Ovulation predictor kits that track LH hormone levels, as a surge in LH triggers ovulation.

However, these might be inaccurate in some women, including those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

There are several apps that play the role of ovulation trackers. Some of these are:

  • Fertility Friend FF App
  • Ovia Fertility & Cycle Tracker
  • Glow Cycle & Fertility Tracker
  • Ovulation Calendar & Fertility
  • Natural Cycles Birth Control 

Fertility vs. Ovulation

Although ovulation and fertility are closely connected, they are different.

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from an ovary. A woman conceives when an egg is fertilised by a sperm. The fertilised egg gets attached to the lining of the uterus.

On the other hand, fertility describes the likelihood of getting pregnant. It lets you know when you are likely to get pregnant in the menstrual cycle.

Couples might decide to have or avoid sex that can lead to pregnancy during this time.

Pregnancy can occur anywhere from five days before and one day after ovulation. This is so because sperm can survive in the vagina for up to five days and an egg can live for about 24 hours after it is released.

Phases of The Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle lasts an average of 28 days and can be divided into three phases:

  1. The periovulatory or follicular phase: During this phase, a layer of cells around the egg begins to expand and become more like mucus. The lining of the uterus now begins to thicken.
  1. The ovulatory phase: The egg and its network of cells leave the ovary through a hole that is formed by enzymes and travel into the fallopian tube.

This is the period of fertility. Plus, it lasts from 24 to 48 hours.

  1. The postovulatory or luteal phase: During this stage, the body secretes luteinizing hormone. A fertilised egg implants in the uterus, while an unfertilized egg stops producing hormones and dissolves within 24 hours.

If a woman is not pregnant, the lining of the uterus begins to break down and prepares to leave the body during menstruation.

How to Test for ovulation?

If you are conducting a test at home, you can measure hormone levels in urine, while a doctor might use both urine and blood tests.

Most pregnancy test kits come in a box that contains one or two long sticks. You need to urinate on the stick and the result appears on the stick after a few minutes.

Pregnancy test kit checks your urine or blood for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body makes this hormone after a fertilised egg attaches to the wall of your uterus.

This usually happens about six days after fertilisation. The level of HCG rises rapidly, doubling every two to three days.

Some of the hormones that are tested for ovulation are:

  1. Luteinizing hormone: The levels of luteinizing hormone rise rapidly about 36 hours and home urine tests can detect this surge.
  1. Estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G): E3G levels rise when oestrogen breaks down and happens at about the same time as ovulation.

A commercial urine test can measure both luteinizing hormone and E3G levels.

  1. Progesterone: Progesterone levels are higher at the time of ovulation as the uterus prepares for a fertilised egg. You can have a blood test for progesterone at a clinic to confirm ovulation.

There is also a commercial test for urine progesterone which appears as “pregnanediol-3-glucuronide” on the label.

Ovulation after Miscarriage

There are several things to think about after a miscarriage. To prevent infection, the woman should avoid sexual intercourse until they no longer have physical symptoms.

Menstruation can start again after one to two months after the pregnancy loss. But cycles might be irregular for several more months.

To make it easier to calculate dates, some women choose to wait until they have at least one period before they conceive again.

It is advisable to consult a doctor before they try to conceive again if they have experienced one of the following:

  1. Molar pregnancy
  1. Ectopic pregnancy
  1. Late pregnancy loss
  1. Multiple pregnancy losses

Health Conditions that Affect Ovulation

Health conditions that affect ovulation are:

  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Research shows that PCOS has been a leading cause of infertility in females and affects six to 12% of those of reproductive age.
  1. Hypothalamic dysfunction: This results from a disruption in the production of the FSH and luteinizing hormone and can affect the menstrual cycle.

Some of its causes are:

  • Excessive exercise, physical and emotional stress
  • High or low body weight and substantial weight gains or losses
  1. Premature ovarian insufficiency: This term refers to egg production stopping early due to a drop in oestrogen levels.

It might result from an autoimmune disease, genetic abnormalities, or environmental toxins, and usually happens before the age of 40.

  1. Excess prolactin: A woman’s body produces excessive amounts of prolactin if she uses certain medications or has an abnormality in their pituitary gland, which produces hormones.

Inducing Ovulation

Fertility drugs can induce ovulation and doctors might prescribe the following if a woman has stopped ovulating:

  • Clomiphene citrate (Clomid): This oral medication increases pituitary secretion of FSH and luteinizing hormone and stimulates the ovarian follicles.
  • Letrozole (Femara): It temporarily lowers the level of the hormone progesterone to stimulate egg production.
  • Human menopausal gonadotropin (Repronex, Menopur, Pergonal) and FSH (Gonal-F, Follistim): These are injectable medications that stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs.
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (Profasi, Pregnyl): This helps mature eggs and stimulates their release.
  • Metformin (Glucophage): This can treat insulin resistance and increase the chances of ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel) and Cabergoline (Dostinex): These help in treating hyperprolactinemia.

What is Ovulation Bleeding?

Ovulation bleeding is the bleeding that occurs around the time of ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg.

In the days leading up to ovulation, oestrogen levels rapidly rise. After an egg is released, the oestrogen levels fall, and progesterone levels increase.

This shift in the balance between the levels of oestrogen and progesterone can cause light bleeding, usually much lighter than a regular period.

If a woman experiences cramping, alongside ovulation bleeding, it is advisable to consult a doctor. | Image Source: freepik

Mostly, it does not cause any other symptoms. If a woman experiences other symptoms like cramping, alongside the bleeding or it lasts more than a few days, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Ovulation Disorders

Ovulation disorders are the most common causes of infertility in women. These are defined as the disturbances in the production of an egg during a woman’s menstrual cycle and are caused by problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones.

Symptoms of Ovulation Disorders

The symptoms of ovulation disorders are:

  1. Irregular or absent periods
  1. Mood changes like anxiety, depression and nervousness
  1. Weight gain coinciding with hypothyroidism and weight loss coinciding with hyperthyroidism.

Treatment Options for Ovulation Disorders

Some treatment options for ovulation disorders include:

  1. Fertility medications: There are oral and injectable fertility medications that can stimulate the ovaries to produce and release eggs.
  1. Lifestyle changes: Women having ovulation disorders are advised to keep weight at optimal levels and exercise regularly. Certain stress relief methods are also suggested.
  1. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy: Women with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, thyroxine (T4) helps bring thyroid levels back into healthy ranges.

Doctors monitor patients on these medications, which are mostly taken orally.

Pregnancy Tips

Here are certain pregnancy tips that you need to know:

  1. Know when you ovulate: Ovulation usually happens 14 days before your next period begins. But it can vary from month to month even in women with regular cycles.
  1. Have sex often: Your chances of getting pregnant are best when you have sex one to two days before you ovulate.
  1. Lie low after sex?: It has been believed that women should stay in bed for at least 15 minutes after sex to give sperm a chance to reach the egg.
  1. Maintain a healthy weight: Studies have shown that weighing too little or too much can disrupt ovulation and affect production of key hormones.
  1. De-stress: According to research, stress might make it difficult to get pregnant. Meditation, yoga and long walks can help lower stress.
  1. Manage medical conditions: If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, asthma, or epilepsy, you must keep these under control. 

You can consult your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications as they might affect your chance of getting pregnant.

  1. Your partner’s health matters too: Research has shown that more than 33% of fertility issues involve only the man and another 33% involve both partners as a couple.

It is important for men to improve their reproductive health too. This can be done by quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, eating healthy, and lowering stress.

FAQ

Is Ovulation Pain Anything to Worry About?

Ovulation pain is nothing to worry about. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor if the pain is severe.

Why does Ovulation Pain Happen?

Before an egg is released, the follicle growth stretches the surface of your ovary. This causes ovulation pain. Besides, blood or fluid released from the ruptured follicle irritates the lining of your abdomen, leading to pain.

How can I Tell when I’m Ovulating?

There are different ways to know that you are ovulating:

  1. Menstrual cycle: Ovulation usually happens around day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle, counting from the first day of your period. So, you can work out when you’re likely to ovulate if you have a regular cycle.
  1. Body temperature: Your temperature rises slightly for a few days after ovulation by about 0.5 to 1.3°F (0.3 to 0.7°C).
  1. Vaginal discharge: You might notice more discharge around the time of ovulation. It’s clearer and more slippery.
  1. Using at-home trackers: Over-the-counter (OTC) options like ovulation predictor kits and fertility monitors can also detect if you are ovulating.

How Many Days After a Period is Ovulation?

Ovulation occurs 12 to 14 days before your next period starts.

Can you Get Pregnant after Ovulation?

Yes, you can get pregnant after ovulation. If you have sex within 12–24 hours after the release of a mature egg, there is a high chance of conceiving.

Conclusion 

Patience and persistence are the watchwords when you’re trying to conceive. Just keep an eye on the common signs and symptoms of ovulation and then you can plan a candlelit dinner, draw a warm bubble bath or go on a romantic weekend getaway to set the mood for the perfect night that might let you welcome your baby after nine months.

If you want to get pregnant, you can consider making a preconception appointment with a doctor. The doctor would answer any questions you might have about ovulation and tracking, as well as advise you on how to time intercourse to increase your chances.

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