Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released form a woman’s ovary and pushed down the fallopian tube. Once it reaches the end of the tube, the egg can be fertilized by sperm. Women who have a healthy and regular menstrual cycle will ovulate every month. Because women are most fertile during ovulation, couples often chart a woman’s cycle to pinpoint the best times to have sexual intercourse.
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When Does Ovulation Occur?
It can be difficult to predict when ovulation will occur, but for most women, it occurs 12-16 days before her next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28-32 days, so ovulation usually occurs at the midpoint of a woman’s cycle. That being said, the timing of ovulation can vary from one cycle to the next.
How long do you ovulate? Once the egg is released down the fallopian tube, it will only live for 12-24 hours. However, sperm can live 3-5 days inside of a woman’s body. While ovulation may technically only last a day at most, a woman’s most fertile time can last 5-7 days.
Ovulation is a two-part process. The first part is known as the follicular phase, and it begins on the first day of your last period. The follicular phase will continue until you ovulate, and its length can vary greatly from 7 days to 40.
The second half of the process is called the luteal phase, and this phase begins the day after ovulation until your next period. Normally, the luteal phase lasts 12-16 days after ovulation has occurred.
The day of ovulation will ultimately determine how long your cycle is, and outside factors can have an effect on when you ovulate. Illness, stress and a disruption of your normal routine can change your cycle.
What Are the Signs of Ovulation?
Some women may experience certain symptoms during ovulation, while other women experience none at all. Some common signs of ovulation include:
- The appearance of white, sticky fluid.
- Dull ache or slight pain on one side of the abdomen.
- Increased sexual intercourse drive.
- Light spotting.
- Slight increase in body temperature (note: this change can only be detected by a basal body thermometer).
- Bloating in the abdominal area.
- Heightened sense of vision, taste or smell.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, tracking ovulation can help you conceive faster. There are a few different ways to do this.
One of the most basic and affordable ways to predict ovulation is by tracking changes in your cervical mucus and your body temperature using a basal thermometer. When a woman is ovulating, she typically experiences a wet substance that resembles egg whites. This fluid, or mucous, may be present just before ovulation and right after it is finished. The basal thermometer will help you detect a slight increase in your body temperature, which is an indication of ovulation.
Ovulation kits and fertility monitors can also be used to track ovulation. An ovulation predictor kit can be highly accurate because it detects the luteinizing hormone (LH). LH levels rise just before ovulation, so these kits can predict when you are going to ovulate. However, they cannot make sure that you do ovulate.
While ovulation kits can be highly accurate, there are some factors that can cause false readings. Some women with premature ovary failure, PCOS and women in perimenopause may have higher levels of LH even when they are not ovulating.
Can Ovulation Occur Right After or During a Period?
In short, yes. The timing of ovulation will depend on how long or short your cycle is. A woman with a 21 day cycle, for example, may bleed for 7 days and then ovulate shortly after.
Women with regular menstrual cycles are not likely to ovulate during their periods. However, ovulation can occur during a period in women who have very irregular cycles or who have multiple cycles in one month. Even then, the chances of ovulation occurring during menstruation are rare.
Can You Get Pregnant During Your Period?
A woman can get pregnant during her period under certain circumstances. Sperm can live in the body for 3-5 days, so conception can occur if a woman ovulates shortly after her period.
The timing of ovulation will vary from one woman to the next. While the egg will only live 12-24 hours, women are fertile for 5-7 days each month as sperm can live in the body for several days.