If high school sex education classes are to be believed, you CAN and WILL get pregnant if you have intercourse even once. This means that you can become pregnant at any time during the month, and this myth has been spread especially by over protective parents. Obviously, this misinformation is aimed at making sure teenage girls and young adult women have the ability to family plan and avoid unwanted pregnancy, but it has led many women into deeply misunderstanding their own body and menstruation cycle.
So, if you cannot become pregnant during just any time in the month, when can you? In reality, fertility and ovulation occurs for only a few days during the month, and you are only able to become pregnant within a period of five days before ovulation and one day after ovulation. If you are still confused, keep reading, and we will hopefully answer your questions about whether you can or cannot become pregnant without ovulation, answer questions about ovulation, and provide you with information on how to track your ovulation to better your family planning ability.
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So Can You Become Pregnant If You are Not Ovulating?
The short answer to this question is a simple NO. It is not possible to become pregnant if your body is not ovulating. What is ovulation though? Ovulation is the time in the female reproductive cycle in which an egg, or ovum, is released from the ovaries, and is prepared to be fertilized by the male sperm after intercourse. Pregnancy occurs when that egg is fertilized and implants into the wall of the uterus to begin the process of creating a fetus. As pregnancy requires a fertilized egg, it becomes clear that it is impossible to become pregnant while you are not ovulating. No egg, no baby.
All About Ovulation
Whether you are trying to become pregnant, or seeking to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, knowing as much as you can about when you might be ovulating is necessary. This can be complicated and confusing for many women, however, as ovulation is unique to each person’s individual cycle. This also makes precision ovulation timing very difficult. In general, most women will ovulate between 10 to 16 days before the next start to their period cycle. To clear up any confusion, the first day of your period cycle is the first day of menstrual bleeding. Once bleeding has stopped, ovulation will occur at some point in the cycle, followed by 10 to 16 days until the next period of bleeding begins. Because the length of each woman’s menstrual cycle is different, ranging sometimes from 21 to 35 days, knowing exactly when ovulation occurs is tricky. This is especially tricky for women who may have irregular bleeding. For an example, a common misconception is that ovulation occurs somewhere around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle. This, however, is not necessarily true, as a woman who has a shorter cycle might expect ovulation between days 5 and 13, and someone with a longer cycle might not ovulate until days 19 to 27.
Ovulation is also complicated by other facts. While it is incredibly rare for a woman to ovulate while experiencing menstrual bleeding, it can happen to women with irregular cycles. In addition to this, it is also possible for you to ovulate even if you are not experiencing periods far apart, or at all. Women who are breastfeeding are especially prone to ovulating without a period as their hormones will prevent menstruation, but may not prevent ovulation. Ovulating without a period can make family planning difficult since conception depends so heavily on timing intercourse with ovulation. Additionally, your body cannot ovulate more than once a month, so if you are seeking to become pregnant, your timing must be as precise as possible. It is possible, however, that your body might release more than one egg at a time. This is how mothers can give birth to non-identical or fraternal twins, or other sets of non-identical multiples.
How to Know If You Are Ovulating
While using period tracking to determine whether you are ovulating can be confusing and difficult, there are other ways for you to be able to track your body’s ovulation cycle. Below are some of the symptoms of ovulation you can use to help you determine whether you might be ovulating:
1. Change in Cervical Firmness or Shape
A dry, hard, and closed cervix is a sign that your body is not ovulating. This can be difficult to check until you are completely familiar with your own body. In contrast, a cervix that is wet, soft, open, and pulled up higher than normal means that your body is ready for ovulation.
In a 24-hour time period, the lowest temperature your body can be is known as your Basal Body Temperature. This is one of the easiest ways to track your ovulation cycle as just before ovulation your basal body temperature will lower slightly, then rocket back up to warmer than normal right after ovulation has passed. Tracking this for a few months will help you gain a clear understanding of your body.
3. Cervical Fluid Changes
This is another of the more easy ways to determine whether you are ovulating. While it varies from woman to women, your vaginal discharge will change throughout the month. For most women, the fluid will be darker in colour and thicker. As ovulation approaches, your cervical fluid should become thinner, more elastic, and clearer. Additionally, the day in which you express the most amount of fluid is most likely the day you ovulate.
4. Other Physical Changes
Your body might also present other symptoms throughout your cycle that point towards ovulation. This includes tenderness in your breasts, feeling bloated, an increased libido, in addition to pelvic cramps. However, these symptoms are also often linked to normal menstruation, and thus should not be relied on entirely to know if you are ovulating.
Ovulation can be a complicated and oftentimes confusing part of the menstruation cycle that many women have several misconceptions about. While you cannot become pregnant if you are not ovulating, for those who are hoping to become pregnant, or those who might be seeking to avoid pregnancy, knowing the symptoms of ovulation and timing are vitally important.