What is Ovulation?
Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary, pushed down the fallopian tube, and is made available to be fertilized.
Approximately every month an egg will mature within one of your ovaries. As it reaches maturity, the egg is released by the ovary where it enters the fallopian tube to make its way towards waiting for sperm and the uterus.
The lining of the uterus has thickened to prepare for the fertilized egg. If no conception occurs, the uterine lining, as well as blood, will be shed.
The shedding of an unfertilized egg and the uterine wall is the time of menstruation.
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There are also a variety of effective and affordable ovulation prediction tools available online.
Key Facts of Ovulation:An egg lives 12-24 hours after leaving the ovary.Click To Tweet Normally only one egg is released each time of ovulationClick To Tweet Ovulation can be affected by stress, illness or disruption of normal routines.Click To Tweet Some women may experience some light blood or spotting during ovulation.Click To Tweet Implantation of a fertilized egg normally takes place 6-12 days after ovulation.Click To Tweet Each woman is born with millions of immature eggs that are awaiting ovulation to begin.Click To Tweet A menstrual period can occur even if ovulation has not occurred.Click To Tweet Ovulation can occur even if a menstrual period has not occurred.Click To Tweet Some women can feel a bit of pain or aching near the ovaries during ovulation called mittelschmerz, which means 'middle pain' in GermanClick To Tweet If an egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates and is absorbed into the uterine lining.Click To Tweet
A woman’s monthly cycle is measured from the first day of her menstrual period until the first day of her next period.
On average, a woman’s cycle normally is between 28-32 days, but some women may have much shorter or much longer cycles.
Ovulation can be calculated by starting with the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) or by calculating 12-16 days from the next expected period.
Most women ovulate anywhere between Day 11 – Day 21 of their cycle, counting from the first day of the LMP.
This is what many refer to as the “fertile time” of a woman’s cycle because sexual intercourse during this time increases the chance of pregnancy.
Ovulation can occur at various times during a cycle, and may occur on a different day each month. It is important to track your cycle and fortunately there are a number of free fertility charting tools available to help women identify their peak fertile days.
The Ovulation Cycle Divided into Two Parts:
The first part of the ovulation cycle is called the follicular phase. This phase starts the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) and continues until ovulation.
This first half of the cycle can differ greatly for each woman lasting anywhere from 7 days until 40 days.
The second half of the cycle is called the luteal phase and is from the day of ovulation until the next period begins.
The luteal phase has a more precise timeline and usually is only 12-16 days from the day of ovulation. This ultimately means that the day of ovulation will determine how long your cycle is.
This also means that outside factors like stress, illness, and disruption of normal routine can throw off your ovulation which then results in changing the time your period will come.
So the old thought that stress can affect your period is only partly true. Stress can affect your ovulation which ultimately determines when your period will come, but stress around the time of an expected period will not make it late—it was already determined when it would come 12-16 days earlier!
Cervical fluid will change to a wet, slippery substance that resembles “egg whites” just before ovulation occurs and until ovulation is over. A basal thermometer helps track a body temperature rise, which signals that ovulation has just occurred.
Tracking ovulation can help a woman get a better idea of when pregnancy can and cannot occur during her monthly cycle.
Once ovulation has occurred, there is nothing you can do to increase your chances of pregnancy. Your next step is to begin watching for early pregnancy symptoms. View and print an Ovulation Calendar to better understand your menstruation cycle and ovulation.
From the Menstrual Period to Ovulation (the details you may not know!)
When your menstrual cycle begins, your estrogen levels are low. Your hypothalamus (which is in charge of maintaining your hormone levels) sends out a message to your pituitary gland which then sends out the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This FSH triggers a few of your follicles to develop into mature eggs.
One of these will develop into the dominant follicle, which will release a mature egg and the others will disintegrate.
As the follicles mature they send out another hormone, estrogen. The high levels of estrogen will tell the hypothalamus and pituitary gland that there is a mature egg.
A luteinizing hormone (LH) is then released, referred to as your LH surge. The LH surge causes the egg to burst through the ovary wall within 24-36 hours and begin its journey down the fallopian tube for fertilization.
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) work by detecting this LH surge.
The follicle from which the egg was released is called the corpus luteum, and it will release progesterone that helps thicken and prepare the uterine lining for implantation.
The corpus luteum will produce progesterone for about 12-16 days (the luteal phase of your cycle.) If an egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum will continue to produce progesterone for a developing pregnancy until the placenta takes over.
You can begin looking for pregnancy symptoms as early as a week after fertilization. You can also begin testing for pregnancy as early as 7-10 days past your ovulation date with an Early Detection Pregnancy Test.
If fertilization does not occur the egg dissolves after 24 hours. At this time your hormone levels will decrease and your uterine lining will begin to shed about 12-16 days from ovulation.
This is menstruation (menstrual period) and brings us back to day 1 of your cycle. The journey then begins all over again.
The process can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming when trying to understand.
The Association recommends using an ovulation kit or fertility monitor to maximize your chances and to confirm when your ovulation is occurring. There are many frequently asked questions about the ovulation process, and the Association has attempted to address those for you.
If you still have further questions regarding ovulation, we encourage you to either talk with your healthcare provider or contact the American Pregnancy Association for more information.
Being informed on what your body does can help you feel more in charge of your health. If you need assistance in tracking ovulation, you can order ovulation kits or ovulation monitors online here: Order an ovulation kit now.
Last updated: September 2, 2016 at 2:01 am