Each month, the female body releases an egg that is ready to be fertilized. Known as ovulation, this event normally takes place around the 14th day of a normal 28-day menstrual cycle. Once the egg is released from the ovaries, it travels down the fallopian tube to reach your uterus. Different factors and hormones work together during the start of your menstrual cycle for ovulation to happen. At around day 6 to 14, the follicles in your ovaries begin to mature so that an egg can be released.
Once the follicle ruptures, the egg is released. This normally happens at around day 14. Women who are trying to get pregnant should track their ovulation date because this day plays a huge role in causing conception to happen.
How Long Does Ovulation Last?
For most women, ovulation lasts for about 24 hours. The egg is released from the ovary, and it has to be fertilized within the next 12 to 24 hours for fertilization to happen. If it is not fertilized, the egg will ultimately dissolve. The uterine lining then prepares to be shed during your period in about two weeks. Ovulation typically lasts for up to one day, so you can only get pregnant on that day.
While ovulation for only happen for a day, there is actually a much wider window for conception. Sperm can stay in your body for up to five days after ejaculation, so you may actually have a six-day window for getting pregnant. If you are trying not to become pregnant, it is important to remember that there are actually six days where you could become pregnant. Plus, your ovulation date may not end up exactly in the middle of the menstrual cycle, so there could be a potentially longer amount of time where you could get pregnant. If you are trying to become pregnant, have sex before, during and after your expected ovulation date to increase the chances of becoming pregnant.
If the egg is fertilized in your fallopian tube, it will travel down to your uterus and implant on the uterine wall. A fertilized egg will normally implant about 6 to 10 days after conception happens.
What Happens During Ovulation?
During ovulation, an egg is matured in follicles within the ovaries. Once the egg is matured, it is released into the fallopian tubes and waits for fertilization. It will either dissolve if it is unfertilized or will travel to the uterus for implantation if it becomes fertilized. In some cases, women may even ovulate twice in the same month or not at all.
How to Tell If You Are Ovulating
Many women do not notice that they are ovulating because there are very few changes that are actually noticeable. If you are trying to get pregnant, it is best to have sex before and on your fertile days to increase your changes of conceiving. You can also look for the following ovulation signs:
1. Basal Body Temperature
Your basal body temperature is the temperature that you have when your body is at rest. It will normally increase two or three days after you are fertile. This means that your basal body temperature is a terrible sign if you want to know when you ovulate this month, but it is useful for predicting future ovulation times. For example, if you figure out that you actually ovulate on the 16th day of your cycle each month, you can use that information to increase your chances of conceiving in the following month.
There is a special thermometer that can take your basal body temperature that you will need to buy. It should be done after you have slept for three to five hours and before you have even sat up in bed. Your basal body temperature will reach its lowest point at ovulation when estrogen dominates. After ovulation, your body is flooded with progesterone to help the egg implant which causes your temperature to immediately rise.
2. Changes in Your Cervical Fluid
Cervical fluid can change when you are about to ovulate or when you are ovulating. Often, your cervical fluid will look like egg whites during ovulation. It may look wet, stringy, clear or stretchy. As the hormones in your body change, your cervix will also change in position. At the start of your cycle, your cervix will normally be hard, low and closed. As you get closer to ovulation, it will become softer and open up to let the sperm through. It will also pull back up. If you are not used to checking your cervix, begin checking it throughout the month so that you can tell how it has changed.
3. Look at the Calendar
Each month, use a calendar to keep track of your menstrual cycle. This will help you chart when you are more likely to get pregnant because you can look at how long your menstrual cycle normally is. From there, you can predict when you will ovulate. You may also want to write on the calendar your cervical position and cervical mucus description throughout the month so that you gain a clearer understanding of your fertility.
4. Watch for Mittelschmerz
Mittelschmerz is a German word that means “middle pain.” It means the symptoms that may occur during ovulation. About 20 percent of women will get some cramps or a slight pain in their lower abdominal region when they ovulate. This will often be on just one side where the egg is being released.
5. Use an Ovulation Predictor Kit
If you do not want to chart your cycle or check your cervical mucus, there is another option. Ovulation predictor kits are available over-the-counter that can predict your ovulation date 12 to 24 hours before it happens. This is because the kits track luteinizing hormone (LH), which is known to peak right before ovulation happens. You use this kit like a pregnancy test: urinate on the stick and wait for it to tell you if you are going to ovulate.
If you do not want a urine test, there is also a saliva test available. It tracks estrogen levels to see if you are going to ovulate. Unlike normal ovulation predictor tests, it is reusable, so it is a cheaper option for predicting ovulation and will give you a four-day warning in advance.