Perhaps you will be one of the lucky ones, and you won’t require the assistance of a calendar or thermometer in your quest to procreate. But for the rest of us, pinpointing our ovulation days will prove extremely useful when attempting to conceive. Before a woman can begin this process, though, she will need to familiarize herself with facts about ovulation as opposed to commonly-held myths.
For some reason, there seem to be many misconceptions surrounding the ovulation process. If a women subscribes to even one of these glitchy facts, she may be miscalculating her ovulation days and then chances are, she's missing her target month after month.
While ovulation is often viewed as some sort of mysterious process that magically occurs on a whim, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The phenomenon occurs thanks to a mixture of chemistry and biology. Once you piece together the exact science behind this (hopefully) monthly occurrence, you’ll most likely find yourself one step closer to reaching your goal.
So whether you are tracking your ovulation in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy, your plans may be all for naught if you are way off base with your calculations. Continue reading for 15 surprising myths about ovulation. Once you separate fact from fiction, you will be paving the way toward your future success.
15 Day 14 is O-Day
Where this sweeping generalization first originated is anyone’s guess. Perhaps from the mistaken belief that all women are on 28-day cycles and ovulation fits nicely at the halfway mark. As ridiculous as this sounds, some healthcare professionals still subscribe to this antiquated notion.
As a matter of fact, a normal cycle length varies between 23 and 35 days. Once you calculate how long a typical monthly cycle is for you, you still have to figure out when ovulation occurs. And just to add one more wrench into your investigation, there is the chance that your ovulation days may change from one cycle to the next, especially if your cycle is irregular.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on tracking your ovulation:
- Keep track of your period and count backward to figure out your peak ovulation days.
- Monitor and record the quality and quantity of your cervical discharge.
- Take your basal body temperature as there will be a slight uptick following ovulation.
- There are many apps as well as ovulation predictor kits that some women swear by. They may be worth a try.
14 Caffeine Has No Effect on Ovulation
While no one knows definitively what effects caffeine has on ovulation, most doctors will recommend no more than two cups of weak-brew coffee per day if you are trying to conceive or are currently pregnant.
The concern is that excessive amounts of caffeine can disrupt your hormonal balance and also affect the muscles within your Fallopian tubes. These particular muscles contract in order to assist the egg in its journey toward your uterus. It is believed that too much caffeine can disrupt this delicate rhythm of movement.
If you are trying to conceive, then play it safe. Stick to decaffeinated beverages and be sure to monitor your caffeine intake in terms of tea, soft drinks, and chocolate.
13 Monthly Fertility is a Tiny Window
Typically, the average woman experiences a small window of fertile days each month. While it’s most definitely not a huge gap by any stretch, neither is it exactly microscopic. Even though a woman’s egg generally hangs around for one day (about 12 to 24 hours) awaiting the arrival of sperm, that doesn’t mean you can only become pregnant on one day per month.
Because sperm can survive within your body for three to five days, your window of fertility increases. For the most part, a woman generally experiences five to seven days of fertility each month. And the sooner you can pinpoint the days of your monthly cycle that you are at your most fertile, the better an idea you will have as to your most optimum days to get busy. Fingers crossed, this will hopefully increase your chances of conceiving sooner rather than later.
12 Ovulation Never Coincides with Shark Week
If your cycles are as reliable as clockwork, then most likely you will not experience ovulation during menstruation. However, if you happen to exhibit mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding, you may mistakenly believe you have begun your period when in fact you have not. In this case, it could be possible that you are ovulating. It is actually not unheard of for some women to suffer mild bleeding or spotting due to ovulation, so keep this in mind if you experience some unexpected, light bleeding.
Also, if you typically experience highly irregular or extremely light periods, pay close attention to figure out if it is actual menstruation or just mild, mid-cycle bleeding. If it is taking you a lot longer to get pregnant than you had hoped, it makes sense to investigate unusual bleeding before simply dismissing it as a period.
11 Age 40 is the End of the Line for Eggs
Unfortunately, celebrities who have waited until their 40s to experience parenthood have created and/or reinforced some serious misconceptions about fertility and egg quality. What they may not necessarily advertise is the fact that they use donor eggs or surrogates or extremely expensive fertility treatments in order to reach their desired goal.
Many women mistakenly believe that as long as they are menstruating regularly, their eggs are perfectly healthy. But this is not always the case as egg quality typically takes a nosedive once a woman reaches her mid to late 30s. So if you are planning on starting a family, it’s important to get cracking before all your eggs are scrambled.
When it comes to women and the amount and quality of their eggs, they will experience several significant changes throughout their lifespan. A baby girl is born with seven million eggs, but this number decreases drastically at puberty to 400,000. As a woman continues to age, so do her eggs. During her late 20s and again in her 30s (usually after 35), her egg reserve undergoes another significant decline.
10 Days Following Menstruation are Egg-Free
Generally speaking, ovulation occurs about 12 to 16 days after the start of your last period. However, if you are prone to long periods or have a shorter than average cycle, it is possible you are fertile immediately following or even during the final days of your period.
When ovulation occurs, it is extremely dependent upon the length of your cycle. That means the shorter the duration of your cycle, the more apt you may be to ovulate immediately following the end of your period.
Keep this in mind: if your cycle is usually shorter than 28 days and your period lasts longer than five days, you are more likely to be ovulating either during the end of your period or immediately following. If you’ve been trying to conceive without any extreme planning or counting and have been coming up unlucky month after month, now may be the time to figure out where ovulation fits into your particular cycle.
9 Smoking Does Not Affect Ovulation
If you are a smoker, you may be under the false assumption that you only have to quit once you actually become pregnant. If this is the case, don’t be surprised if you discover the road to conception is a long and bumpy one. This is because smoking can often lead to infertility issues.
When you smoke, you are releasing more than 7,000 potentially harmful chemicals throughout your body which can damage your reproductive system and existing eggs, and lead to ovulatory problems. These dangerous chemicals can cause hormonal imbalances that can wreak havoc on your entire system including your monthly ovulation cycle.
A couple of other important items to be aware of include:
- The dangers of secondhand smoke--it can prove just as harmful to your internal workings as being a first-hand smoker.
- The importance of future fathers butting out - smoking can often lead to infertility problems within men.
8 Pregnancy is Impossible During Aunt Flo's Visit
While it is practically impossible to get pregnant on your period, there is a chance of getting pregnant from intercourse occurring during this time, especially if you happen to have a shorter cycle length than the standard 28 to 30 days. The shorter your cycle (and the longer your period), the more likely you are to ovulate soon after menstruation.
Because sperm has a shelf life of up to five days following intercourse, if you have sex while menstruating and ovulate a few days later, the possibility exists that a pregnancy can result. In your case, before you can determine if this is plausible, you will need to do some homework and figure out how long your cycle is and when ovulation typically falls within its framework. If in fact ovulation does occur immediately following your period, you may want to consider getting frisky during the tail end of your monthly red dot special.
7 Discharge is a Key Predictor for Ovulation
Many women are taught to monitor the amount or quality of their vaginal discharge in order to calculate when ovulation is occurring. For the most part, thick, white cervical fluid and ovulation are thought to go hand-in-hand. However, this is not always the most accurate predictor and should not be solely relied upon when trying to figure out your most fertile days each month.
In a perfect world, the day that your vaginal discharge is the thickest is indicative of ovulation. But this is not always the best way to track ovulation for several reasons:
- Your body may produce either a lot or not much mucous on a regular basis, making it difficult to distinguish any change.
- You may confuse sperm with vaginal secretions.
- Discharge can become altered due to infection, medications, or birth control methods.
- It may be difficult to retrieve discharge in order to properly examine it.
6 Sex After Ovulation Can Knock You Up
Once your ovary releases an egg, it is only viable for fertilization for about 12 to 24 hours (some experts believe up to 48 hours). After that, the egg travels along your Fallopian tubes before being absorbed back into your body. When that occurs, ovulation is finished for this particular cycle and chances of conceiving that month are over and done with.
So if you wait until ovulation occurs before having sex, you are decreasing your chances at achieving pregnancy. Most professionals suggest having sex two or three days prior to ovulation since sperm can survive within your reproductive tract for up to five days. That way, there will be a few hanging around in the right place at the right time when the egg makes its appearance.
Where conception is concerned, having sex too early is better than too late. Some experts even suggest enjoying a shag five days prior to ovulation. That way your bases are covered in case your calculations are slightly off.
5 Stress Affecting Ovulation is a Myth
There’s no doubt about it--all those well-intentioned individuals who keep telling you to relax and not worry so much about trying to get pregnant are annoying. However, they may actually have a point. It has been proven that stress can affect your ovulation and lead to some infertility issues.
The part of your brain responsible for appetite, emotional and hormonal regulation is the hypothalamus. When you experience stress, this can affect your brain and throw everything out of whack including your ovulation cycle.
If your stress level is high but pretty consistent, then most likely your body will become accustomed to this and not react. However, when experiencing sudden, unexpected stress, it is highly likely that your ovulation can be thrown into a tailspin. Keep in mind that this goes for both negative stress (such as experiencing a sudden death) as well as positive stress (receiving an unforeseen job promotion).
4 More Discharge Signifies a Bigger Fertility Window
Your body may just be the type to produce excessive amounts of cervical fluid but this does not indicate you have any bigger a fertility window than anyone else. Most women only have a 24 to 48-hour window to conceive following ovulation. This is pretty much standard across the board no matter the length of your cycle or the amount of your discharge.
And if you have an abundance of cervical secretions, this may make it difficult for you to notice any changes that would indicate the onset of ovulation. To confuse matters further, a distinguished change within your discharge can also be a result of a vaginal infection, a side effect of certain medications or even a reaction to specific birth control methods.
If monitoring your discharge just isn’t working for you, it may be time to move on to more precise ways to calculate your time of ovulation.
3 Ovulation Occurs Until Menopause
Menopause by definition is when a woman’s ovaries no longer have any eggs left to produce, release, or have fertilized. However, the term menopause is often used to describe a number of related symptoms leading up to this phenomenon such as experiencing irregular periods or hot flashes. Yet despite experiencing these particular manifestations associated with the onset of menopause, it is possible that ovulation may still be occurring.
Menopause is not as simple a process as turning off a faucet. It’s more of a transition that occurs in drips and drabs over many years, as opposed to a quick, one-step occurrence. This is especially true if menopause is occurring naturally rather than through surgery or medication.
That said, even if you are still ovulating and menstruating, in most cases, women are unable to become pregnant after the age of 45.
2 Weight Gain Plays a Slight Role in Ovulation
Once you make the conscious decision to start trying for a baby, don’t feel you have permission to begin packing on the pounds just yet. Being overweight (especially significantly) or underweight can alter your ovulation patterns and decrease your chances of conceiving quickly and easily.
Obesity can sometimes result in hormonal imbalances as well as ovulation issues, including anovulation, which is the failure of your ovary in releasing an egg. Being overweight is also sometimes associated with polycystic ovary syndrome resulting in enlarged ovaries containing fluid-filled sacs, irregular menstruation, and an increased amount of androgens (male hormones). This is a common cause of infertility issues.
A healthy balance of eating well and exercising will boost your chances of achieving pregnancy, so do what you can to maintain a healthy weight. This goes for the future father as well; being overweight can lead to decreased semen production, which can result in infertility issues on his end, too.
1 Good Health Equals Good Egg Quality
When it comes to determining the egg quality and fertility potential, age is the most critical factor. In a nutshell, a woman’s age (and pretty much nothing else) determines the quality of her eggs. You cannot reverse the clock or create new and healthy eggs by starting a health regime.
Each woman is born with a finite number of eggs and as they age, so do their eggs. Of course, it is beneficial for a number of important reasons to keep fit, active, and healthy but keeping your eggs robust is not one of them.
While poor health due to smoking, stress, diet and/or genetics can definitely play a role in infertility, it doesn’t typically affect the quality of a woman’s eggs; that is determined by her age. Most professionals agree that once a woman reaches age 35, her egg quality begins to experience deterioration.