When it comes to conception, ovulation is a frequent buzzword. Wondering what is ovulation? Check out our essential guide here.
What if we told you that you could pinpoint your fertile window? That's right: we can get your chances of getting pregnant down to three days. And, within those three days, you'll have a 30% chance of getting pregnant.
During this period of time, the female body goes through ovulation. But, what is ovulation?
Understanding ovulation and fertility is important to controlling your family plans and getting pregnant when you're ready. The relationship between ovulation and conception is strong, and understanding that relationship can turn your entire fertility journey around.
To learn more, keep reading.
What Is Ovulation?
Every month, the female body prepares itself for pregnancy. Even if you aren't sexually active or planning on becoming pregnant, your body prepares just in case.
During the process of ovulation, one follicle becomes ready to produce an egg. Sometimes, your body may select two follicles to release an egg. This would lead to non-identical or fraternal twins.
Your body releases the follicle through hormone communication in your brain. These hormones are consistently regulated by the brain. And, when it comes time for ovulation, your brain signals these hormones to the rest of your body.
Usually, these hormone signals happen during the middle of your cycle. Here, the term 'cycle' refers to your entire cycle, not just the portion of your cycle when you experience menstrual bleeding.
So, you usually experience ovulation at about day 14 in your cycle. However, cycle lengths vary from person to person. And, if you have a medical condition that affects the length of your cycle, you may experience ovulation rarely or even never.
What Happens When You Ovulate?
Overall, there is no pattern or order that can help medical professionals predict which ovary ovulates each month. Sometimes, the body chooses the same ovary over and over again or it switches between the two.
In either case, the body selects one to release an egg that then travels down the fallopian tube. Here is where the egg can meet the sperm if any are presented into the environment.
If the egg does meet sperm, fertilization can occur. If successful, this egg and sperm will then transform into an embryo. Then, this embryo will implant in the lining of the uterus.
If fertilization does not happen, the egg will go out of the uterus and down the vaginal canal to exit the body. Then, your body will shed its uterine lining. This blood and tissue are what produce the monthly menstrual period.
How Long Does the Cycle Last?
Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry answer to this question. Every woman is different. Therefore, every woman experiences a different cycle length.
Even though the average cycle is 28 days long, many women experience cycles lesser or greater than this. Even if you don't have a condition that affects your cycle, you may experience a different cycle length. This means that healthy, fertile women may have different days for their ovulation.
When Do You Ovulate?
Usually, it's the follicular phase that varies. This is the period of time leading up to ovulation.
The period of time following ovulation, the luteal phase, remains around the same amount of time: 14 days.
So, to figure out when you ovulate, you need to do some simple math.
First, you need to track your period. It's likely that you have some idea of when your next period will start. The number of days between the beginning of one period to the beginning of the next is the number of days your cycle runs.
To calculate ovulation, you need to focus on the date of the next period. Remember, your time for ovulation depends on your next period rather than your last one.
Your luteal phase remains the same at around 14 days in length. So, you should look two weeks before the first day of your period. That day and the two days before are the best time to try for children if you're looking to conceive.
To clarify, your time for ovulation will fall two weeks (14 days) before your next period starts.
Do Ovulation Prediction Kits or Temperature Charts Help?
You may have heard of women using prediction kits or temperature charts to help with tracking their ovulation. While some women may have success with these kinds of tests, others are unnecessarily stressed out and confused by them.
Prediction kits and temperature charts aren't as accurate as other methods. And, tracking your cycle may prove more effective than these methods.
Ovulation prediction kits work by testing the urine for hormones. But, by the time that your predictor kit senses the surge, your window of opportunity may have passed. So, if you're using these kits, you need to be ready to go.
Temperature charts have the same flaw. Your body temperature increases by a very small amount after ovulation is complete. So, by the time that you notice the temperature change, you've already missed your fertility window.
If you're not looking to conceive and you just want to know more about your cycle, these methods can be effective. However, you shouldn't depend on them if you're having trouble conceiving. You may not get the results you want and end up prolonging conception.
What Causes Ovulation?
As we said earlier, your body triggers ovulation by using hormones. More specifically, it uses follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
First, your body produces FSH during the first part of your cycle. This is during the part of your cycle when you may experience bleeding. While you're experiencing your typical period, your body is using this hormone to trigger egg maturation.
In other words, your body is working on preparing your eggs for the next release time.
While this is happening, your body is also increasing the amount of estrogen it's making. Once your body has produced enough estrogen, it releases LH into the bloodstream. This causes the follicle to release the mature egg, beginning ovulation.
Again, your follicles may release two eggs. This would lead to non-identical/fraternal twins if fertilization occurs.
How Long Do the Sperm and Egg Live?
The egg lives for about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation occurs. On the other hand, the sperm lives for five to seven days.
So, you may have sperm in your system for up to a week after you've had sex. However, it's best to be prepared in case the sperm don't live for this long.
To learn more about sperm and male fertility, you can read our male fertility guide. It's important to make sure that both the male and female bodies are prepared for ovulation, and we share some tips for doing just that.
When Is the Best Time to Have Sex to Conceive?
Ideally, you want to have a lot of sperm ready to get to the egg when your body releases it. So, it's important to have regular sex leading up to ovulation.
And, because ovulation doesn't occur at the exact same time every month, you may want to make sure that you have sperm at the ready whenever it does happen.
Is There Anything I Can Do After Sex to Increase My Chances of Becoming Pregnant?
Many women worry that semen fluid leaks out after having sex. To them, this means that all of the sperm are exiting their bodies. However, this isn't true.
A single ejaculation contains 20 million to 100 million sperm cells. So, the majority of these sperm cells are staying inside of your body. And, you only need a single sperm to fertilize an egg.
Interestingly, the human body feels tired after having sex because it's trying to encourage the sperm to make it to the fallopian tubes to find the egg.
Unfortunately, standing on your head or sitting upside down doesn't do anything to help the fertilization process. So, you can sit naturally or lay down.
How Can You Tell if You're Ovulating?
Many women become so in-tune with their bodies that they can tell when all of these different stages are happening. But, if you aren't there yet, it's not as hard as it may seem.
First, you need to realize that every woman is different. Even though we've studied hormones and cycles for centuries, there is no absolute for every single woman out there.
But, there are a few ways that you can familiarize yourself with how your body works. And, you can use all of the basic concepts that we've discussed here.
The easiest way to determine whether or not you're ovulating is by looking at cervical secretions. More technically, you'd be looking at your discharge.
After your period, you may notice that you become dry for a day or two. Then, you may begin to notice a secretion that is somewhat white in color. For you, it may be white or slightly yellow.
Once you start ovulating, this secretion will change. You may notice a clear, sticky secretion that seems similar to mucous. It may also be stretchy.
Usually, this discharge is easy to spot. So, if you're trying to tell whether or not you're ovulating, this is one of the easiest methods.
Once you've completed ovulation, the discharge will change again. This time, you may notice a creamy, white secretion.
Discharge is completely normal just as all of these changes to the discharge are normal. But, you should ask your physician about any abnormal changes that you may witness.
Is Ovulation Painful?
Some women complain of pain during ovulation. They describe the feeling as a sharp pain in their lower abdomen. Experts call this ovulation pain 'mittelschmers.'
Women experience this pain as the ovary is releasing the newly matured egg into the fallopian tube.
Some women even lose a small amount of blood when this happens. But, this is completely normal.
However, if you're experiencing a large amount of pain or bleeding, you should speak with your OBGYN. This medical professional may need to run tests to ensure that you're not experiencing any additional problems as a result of ovulation.
Why Is Getting Pregnant Hard?
Unfortunately, humans aren't known for being fertile. Some experts believe that it's because it takes so many resources to take care of a human child. They believe that the difficult fertility process and long pregnancy are our bodies' ways of reducing the number of births so that we can put more resources into each child.
The average, healthy female in her 20s has a one in three chance of conceiving. As you grow older, those chances diminish.
And, other conditions could affect fertility in both the female and the male. In fact, 17% of couples in the United States experience infertility.
How Can I Test My Fertility?
So, what is ovulation? It's the female body's way of preparing to carry a child. It's a natural and beautiful process that can lead to life.
And, if you want to conceive children, you need to make sure that you and your male partner are fertile. To test your male partner's fertility, you should invest in our fertility test.
Our results can help you and your partner make the necessary plans for conceiving a child.
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