About Ovulation

August 17, 2010

When a couple decides they want to conceive a pregnancy, then all the relaxation seems to go out of the relationship when it comes to sex. Now, "We're on a mission" and that means timing, having sex on purpose, and knowing when ovulation is happening. While most women learn about ovulation in biology class in school, the facts around it go missing from memory after a time. Knowing the various facts about ovulation will be useful when it comes time to figure out when you ovulate, so conception won't take too long (we hope).

What Is Ovulation?

The most fertile time in a woman's menstrual cycle is the moment when a mature egg is released from the follicle of an ovary. This is called ovulation. Once the egg is released, it lives for about 24 hours and then begins to disintegrate. It is during these 24 hours that you are most likely to conceive, so exact ovulation prediction is important. So, when does ovulation happen? Typically, ovulation occurs about 14 days after the beginning of your menstrual cycle. You can keep an ovulation calendar and calculate your fertile time within your cycle by subtracting the length of the luteal time from the length of your cycle.

Luteal Phase and Peak Fertility Days

What's luteal time, you ask? The full answer is lengthy, but suffice to say that the luteal phase begins with the day after you ovulate and continues to the end of your cycle, one day before you begin your next period. The period of time is usually between 10 and 16 days and is pretty consistent from period to period. The average is about 14 days. When the luteal phase begins, your basal body temperature rises in order to provide a fertile environment for the egg. The period of ovulation is determined by subtracting the length of the luteal phase from the total length of your cycle.

Your peak fertility days are the day before, the day of, and the day after ovulation. Since the egg only lasts 24 hours, conception has to take place within this window. Sperm, on the other hand, survives several days longer, so if you have conception sex even as long as five days before ovulation and two days after ovulation, you could still be in the running. Your fertile period is about seven days in total.

The LH Surge and Mittelschmerz

When ovulation is about to occur, your body will undergo a massive hormonal change and have a luteinizing hormone surge. This hormone is the one that facilitates ovulation, causing the egg to leave the ovary. An ovulation predictor test can be used to detect the fluctuation of this hormone, letting you know you are about to ovulate. Sometimes you get a pain on one side or the other in the abdomen around the time of ovulation. This pain, known as mittelschmerz, or middle pain (it's a German word), can occur during or just before ovulation and lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. This is another way to know you're ovulating.

When Your Period Is Irregular

Sometimes having an irregular cycle can cause some real headaches when it comes to calculating ovulation. An irregular period may or may not be a sign of a medical issue. Your menstrual cycle can be disrupted by any number of outside influences - stress, illness, diet, increase in physical activity - but if it goes on for a long time it can result in irregular ovulation or anovulation, when you're not ovulating at all. If your periods are irregular, check in with your doctor to discuss the situation and determine a course of action.

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