If you are trying to conceive, ovulation becomes the most important time in your cycle. It is the only time you can get pregnant. This in itself should be enough to get you to take notice, but there is so much more about ovulation you can learn. And the more you know, the better your chances will be of getting pregnant.
Some women naturally know when they ovulate, but most women are in the dark about what happens to their body during this very important phase. But have no fear. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about ovulation.
What is Ovulation?
The simple answer to this question is that ovulation describes the process of an ovary releasing a mature egg. This happens once in a cycle, so approximately once a month, regardless of whether the woman has had sexual intercourse. Ovulation occurs so that conception may take place. If the egg is not fertilized, a new menstrual cycle will begin about two weeks later.
How is Ovulation Tied to Your Menstrual Period?
Ovulation is one phase of the cycle. Each cycle a new uterus lining (endometrium) is prepared for possible implantation of a fertilized egg. Ovulation is when the body releases a mature egg for fertilization, but if that egg is not fertilized within 12-24 hours it will die. Without implantation, the endometrium breaks up until it can no longer hold itself. The menstrual period is essentially the body removing excess blood and tissue from the endometrial lining.
Getting to Know the Hormones That Control Ovulation
You may be surprised to learn that ovulation actually begins in the brain. This is why it should come as no surprise that the process can impact the entire body. It starts when the hypothalamus in the brain releases gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). This sends a message to the nearby pituitary gland to start producing a messenger hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH does exactly what you would expect it to do by its name. It travels from the brain to the ovaries to stimulate production of follicles. Each follicle contains an egg. Follicle and egg development takes over a year and your ovaries contain follicles in all stages of development.
In the final stages of development (during the follicular phase of a cycle), a few follicles compete to be the single follicle that will release an egg. They compete for FSH and in response the follicles release estrogen. One follicle will continuing growing, the others will die. Estrogen levels reach a point that cause a surge in LH, this gives the egg a final push to mature causing the follicle to rupture and release the egg. After it ruptures, the empty follicle becomes the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum then releases progesterone which helps prepare the uterus lining for implantation.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation
Most women do not feel ovulation, but a select few may experience symptoms such as cramping, bloating, nausea and breast tenderness. Whether or not you feel the symptoms, you can track ovulation by using traditional methods that include charting basal body temperature (BBT), evaluating changes in cervical mucus and evaluating the cervix for changes in texture and position that occur during the cycle. Read the “Step-by-step guide to cervical mucus”. It may take a few cycles of tracking ovulation before you can predict when you will ovulate in the following month.
Once you know when you will ovulate, it is time to start trying to conceive. Plan to have intercourse about every two days within your fertile window. Your fertile window includes the five days leading up to and including ovulation. This is because sperm can live up to five days and the egg can live up to one day. Most sperm will not live five days, it is more likely that sperm that were ejaculated a couple of days before ovulation, rather than four or five days before, will have more chance of fertilizing an egg.
Once you have done the baby dance and ovulation has passed, it is time to wait until you can take a test. Some pregnancy tests can give you a reading as early as six days before your next menstrual period. If you see a negative, this does not necessarily mean you are not pregnant. Keep testing until the day after you are supposed to get your next period, or until you get your next period.
If you are not pregnant in this cycle, do not worry. This does not necessarily mean you have a fertility problem. It takes six cycles for a healthy, fertile couple to conceive, on average. Here are 20 things you can do to improve your fertility.
Phil Druce created Ovulation Calculator.
So far, the website has recorded over 10,000 pregnancies by providing the necessary education and how-to get pregnant knowledge along with ovulation tracking tools.