Ovulation is the process that occurs when a woman’s ovary releases an egg and signifies the time of her menstrual cycle which means she is fertile. Every month, an egg grows and matures inside the ovary until it is large enough to be released. When the egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tube in the direction to the uterus. Women normally have two ovaries, but either one may release an egg during one month.
The process of ovulation is controlled by the hypothalamus, which is within the brain. It prompts the pituitary gland and anterior lobe to secrete hormones known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Ovulation normally occurs during the menstrual cycle anytime between the 10th and 19th day.
You can watch the video below to get a vivid understanding of the process of ovulation:
Why Is Ovulation Important?
Ovulation and Pregnancy
After the ovary releases an egg or ovum, it travels down the fallopian tube on its way to the uterus. The ovum is able to live for a period of up to 24 hours. The life expectancy of sperm is longer for 2-5 days. This means that the days just before and during ovulation are when a woman can become pregnant. Having sex during this time gives you a good chance of conceiving. In fact, 85% of fertile couples become pregnant within a year, with a 20% each cycle, if birth control is not being used. You can increase the chance of getting pregnant by knowing the dates you ovulate.
Ovulation and Period
Once you have ovulated, your body begins to produce the hormone progesterone. This hormone is responsible for preparing your womb by building a lining for a fertilized egg. At the same time, the follicle within the ovary, which is now empty, starts to get smaller while continuing to produce progesterone, as well as estrogen. It is because of these processes that you may experience premenstrual syndrome, which can include irritability, depression, lethargy, breast tenderness and bloating.
Once the follicle finishes shrinking, if the egg does not become fertilized, the hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen begin to decrease. This decrease in hormone levels cause the lining of the uterus to break down and be shed, which is your menstrual period as well as the beginning of your next monthly menstrual cycle.
So, When Does Ovulation Occur?
It usually takes from 28-32 days for a woman to complete her menstrual cycle, which begins on the first day of her period, also known as menses. Sometime between day 10 and 19 of her cycle is when ovulation occurs, which is also about 12 to16 days prior to her next period.
To help calculate when you can expect ovulation to occur, you can use the ovulation calculator below:
Besides, there are also a number of signs that you may experience that signal that you are ovulating, as outlined below.
Change in Cervical Mucus
You may notice that mucus from your cervix changes in consistency and volume. This is because of the increased levels of estrogen that take place in your body. Once secretions appear to be slippery, stretchy and clear, you are most likely at your most fertile. The appearance of your mucus at this stage may resemble raw egg whites.
At other times of your menstrual cycle, cervical mucus acts as a protective barrier, but when you are ovulating, it changes in order to enable sperms to enter the cervix so that they can reach your uterus to fertilize your egg.
Body Temperature Rise
When ovulating, your body temperature may go up by anywhere from 0.4–1 degrees. This change cannot be felt, but it can be detected by using a thermometer called basal body temperature thermometer. The reason that your temperature rises during the time of ovulation is because the production of progesterone is stimulated, which causes your temperature to go up.
Discomfort in Lower Abdomen
About 20% of women feel twinges of pain or achiness when ovulation occurs. This is referred to as mittelschmerz, which comes from the German term "middle pain." This feeling may only last a few minutes or several hours.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
These kits can be purchased over the counter in grocery and drug stores for anywhere from $20 to $50. The kit is used to test the increased amount of luteinizing hormone in your urine that takes place just before ovulating. These kits have a high accuracy rate by giving you a 12 to 36 hours range during which you are most likely to become pregnant.
More Facts About Ovulation
Since birth, each female has millions of eggs that will mature during her life that are waiting for the onset of ovulation.
A woman can have her period even if she has not ovulated.
Ovulation can take place even if a woman has not started her period.
A woman’s ovulation can be impacted by disruption of routine, medication, becoming ill, or encountering stress.
Some woman may bleed a little when they ovulate.
When an egg does not become fertilized, it is absorbed into the lining of the uterus.