Ovulation is the release of the ripe egg (ovum) from the ovary.
The egg is released when the cavity surrounding it (the follicle) breaks open in response to a hormonal signal. When ovulation occurs, the ovum moves into the Fallopian tube and becomes available for fertilization.
Some women never have to consider their ovulation because they have sex and get pregnant. Other couples have to make a more concerted effort to conceive. In this case, one of the primary steps will be for the woman to achieve an understanding of her menstrual cycle and ovulation.
There are three main phases of ovulation.
First is the follicular phasein which a layer of cells around the ovum begins to mucify (we’ll talk more about how mucous plays into ovulation later) and expand. The uterine lining thickens.
Next, during the ovulatory phase,enzymes form a hole through which the ovum and its network of cells move into the fallopian tube. This is the period of fertility.
Afterwards is the luteal phaseand this is when a fertilized egg implants in the womb. An unfertilized egg will slowly dissolve over the next day.
So, as you have learned, the ovulatory phase is the most important time for getting pregnant. Once your egg has been released, it’s viable for about a day or two but, after that, you typically can’t get pregnant until your next period. (If you are not trying to conceive, do take your birth control during this time, however!)
While the time frame for conception is narrow, there is six-day window of fertility in your cycle. That window is the five days leading up to ovulation, and then the day of ovulation. The best time frame to get pregnant is the three days prior to ovulation and the actual day of ovulation.
There are a lot of old-fashioned ways to track your ovulation and plenty of wives’ tales but, in reality, no two women’s bodies are the same and they will ovulate differently. If you are trying to get pregnant, here are some signs of ovulation to look out for:
- Cervical mucus changes
Told you we would talk about mucus again! Around ovulation time, your body produces more estrogen. The appearance of cervical mucus becomes stretchy and clear, like egg white, which helps sperm swim to the egg that’s released during ovulation.
Here is a quick test to try: Insert a clean finger into your vagina, take out some of the mucus and then stretch out the discharge between your thumb and finger. If it’s sticky and elastic or very and slick, that’s a good sign that you’re fertile.
- Breast and nipple sensitivity
Tenderness or soreness in the breasts is another common sign. Breasts and nipples become tender because of the rush of hormones right before and after ovulation.
- Light spotting or discharge
Spotting during ovulation is normal. This may happen when the follicle that surrounds and protects the developing egg grows and then ruptures. This may be a sign that it is a good time for a date night.
- Libido changes
Some women note that their sex drive gets higher at some point in ovulation. This seems to be nature’s way of encouraging reproduction.
- Charts, Kits & Monitors
If you want to get a bit more organized with monitoring ovulation, there are many kits and monitors that can be of assistance.
A medical professional can assist you if you have been trying for a year or more with no luck. Certain diseases or disorders, a very high or very low body fat percentage, various medications and other lifestyle factors (like stress) are likely to affect the menstrual cycle and/or ovulation. Women may even stop ovulating for periods of time.
While we know a great deal about fertility and ovulation from a purely medical or scientific perspective, no two women are identical and there are many factors that affect a woman’s cycle. If you are trying for a baby, understanding and getting in tune with your body will be an essential step in getting pregnant. But, bottom line: Rather than becoming consumed with trying for a child, enjoy your time with your partner (and try to get extra frisky during your
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