“WHEN DO I OVULATE?” is a question that so many women ask themselves, but can’t seem to answer all that clearly. Some might not know exactly what ovulation is, how it happens, when it happens, or what the function of ovulation is. Ovulation is essential for getting pregnant, no ovulation means no chance of getting pregnant and it’s a process that every woman goes through after puberty.
There are many books written about it and so much advice regarding it, however, those are often unclear and sometimes false. As a woman, it’s important to know how the body functions, just like it is for men too. Well, who are we kidding, the male body is powered by beer and governed by the penis. The same cannot be said for women who truly have complexities inside their own bodies.
Here’s a crash course in Ovulation 101; everything you need to know about ovulation in one convenient place.
8 What Exactly Is Ovulation?
Ovulation is part of a woman’s menstrual cycle and occurs once per month, give or take. It can vary because every woman is different; it could be every 28 days or every 32 days, it all depends on the individual in question.
Ovulation is when a mature egg--not a chicken egg, but a human female’s egg reaches maturity and gets released from the ovary to make its way down the fallopian tube and is ready to be fertilized by a male’s sperm. If fertilization occurs, the egg will then be deposited in the lining of the uterus and develop into a baby who will cry and poop for ages to come.
During Ovulation the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation to receive a fertilized egg, there is also more blood being provided to the uterus to support a growing life. If the egg is not fertilized and no baby is conceived, then the body will begin menstruation.
7 Ovulation and Menstruation – What Is The Connection?
Ok, so as we have covered, during ovulation the uterus’ lining thickens and gets engorged with blood awaiting the arrival of the fertilized egg, but if you’re eggs haven’t been fertilized, then the uterus’ extra lining is shed. Along with the extra blood, the unfertilized egg is flushed out of the uterus, in other words you’re going to have another few good months of undisturbed sleep.
This flushing out of the unfertilized egg and the extras is what is known as menstruation, or in layman’s terms it’s when a woman has her period. Some women suffer from PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome which can cause symptoms like fatigue, nausea, cramps, mood swings, anxiety and depression among other things.
Menstruation is really the second part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The first part of the cycle is ovulation where the egg and the body gets ready for fertilization and conception, the second part of the cycle is where the unfertilized egg is flushed out of the body in preparation for a new, fresh, and eager egg to meet the bodily fluids of a man.
6 How to Track Ovulation
One of the important things to know is that a woman’s menstrual cycle is measured by going from the first day of the menstrual period up until the first day of the following menstrual period. Like we said before, the average length of each cycle is between 28 and 32 days, however, this can vary greatly.
Don’t worry if your cycle is exactly that long; menstrual cycles have been known to take as long as 45 days and as little as 20 days, however, those lengths are quite rare. Predicting the exact time of ovulation is really just a best guess at most, that and the combination of a few thousand years of medical guesstimation along with the varying women’s cycle length.
That being said women on average will ovulate between the 11th and 21st day of their cycle which can be calculated pretty easily by simply adding between 12-16 days to the day from their LMP or last menstrual period, which is the last day of menstruation; ovulation happens approximately 2 weeks into the menstrual period.
Of course women are at their most fertile during the period of ovulation, which is a pretty well known fact and women will often have their menstrual cycle on lock down when trying to get pregnant, something for which there are a number of fertility tracking tools so you can keep track of your most fertile times.
One fact that may not be so well known however, is that ovulation can occur on a different day each cycle; ovulation could take place on the 11th day one month and on the 21st day the next month, and that all depends on how long each individual woman’s cycle is to begin with.
5 Ovulation – Part : The Follicular Phase
Ovulation is actually divided into 2 separate stages when very different things occur in the female body.
This first part of the ovulation time is called the follicular phase. This phase actually begins on the LMP or the last menstrual period and goes all the way until the first day of ovulation. Remember how I said that these cycles can differ very greatly from woman to woman, well the follicular phase can actually last anywhere from 7 to 40 days.
It’s called the follicular cycle because this is when the female body selects the ovarian follicles which will have the ability to develop and release eggs. During this stage there is a very large surge of estrogen which assists in the recruitment and selection of the ovarian follicles, which in the simplest terms means where the eggs are developed and released from. This is the stage that gets the body ready for ovulation, makes ovulation possible, and readies the body for the acceptance of a fertilized egg.
4 Ovulation - Part : The Luteal Phase
So, the luteal phase is the second phase of ovulation, and opposed to everything else that has been said here, it’s actually one of the most precise things to determine in terms of timing ovulation. This phase lasts from between 12-16 days from the first day of ovulation.
During the luteal phase a woman’s body temperature will slightly increase in order to make adequate conditions for the expected baby. During this stage of the menstrual cycle, the most dominant hormone in the female body is progesterone; this in combination with estrogen turns the dominant ovarian follicle into what is known as the corpus luteum.
This is where the egg comes from and it also produces hormones to assist in ovulation and preparation for a fertilized egg. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, on the last day of the luteal phase the body goes into luteal regression, or luteolysis, which is where the corpus luteum degrades and breaks down; one of these develops during every cycle.
3 Hormones and the Ovarian Follicle/Corpus Luteum
Let’s just stick with this topic for a little bit and explain the function and effects of Estrogen, Luteinizing hormones, the Ovarian follicle, and the corpus luteum; each one of these things has a specific function when it comes to ovulation and the menstrual cycle in general.
To begin with, when a woman is at the beginning of the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels are actually very low. When the body realizes this, the hypothalamus--the part of the brain in charge of regulating hormones in the human body--will send out a signal to the pituitary gland to create something called a Follicle Stimulating Hormone.
What the follicle stimulating hormone does is trigger some of the ovarian follicles into producing mature eggs that can be fertilized by male sperm. As is often the case, only one of these eggs will develop into a strong and mature egg, taking over the rest in a competition of strength and dominance. And just for memory’s sake, the ovarian follicles are the cells which produce the eggs.
As the follicle gets older and matures into a usable egg, the follicle sends out mass amounts of estrogen to both the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus signaling that there is a mature egg ready for delivery. The pituitary gland will then release what is known as a luteinizing hormone which causes the eggs to make its way through the ovarian wall and begin its descent down the fallopian tube and this happens within 12-36 hours of the initial surge of luteinizing hormones.
Once the ovarian follicle has released the egg, it turns into what is known as the corpus luteum which has its own function of course. It produces progesterone for 12-16 days after the release of the egg and progesterone’s function is to increase blood flow to the uterus and thicken the uterus’ lining to prepare it for a fertilized egg.
If a pregnancy is achieved then the corpus luteum will continue producing progesterone until the placenta takes over the function.
2 What Are the Signs of Ovulation
Many women of course want to know when they are ovulating and they want to know how they can tell for themselves. Of course there are many test kits to buy online and many expensive doctors to visit if you want to find out, but there are other ways of telling when you’re ovulating as well.
Generally speaking, one of the key signs that a woman is going through ovulation is that the cervical fluid will go from a liquid that mostly resembles water to more slippery, slimy, and sticky substance that most people say resembles uncooked egg whites; so if you find this is occurring, then you are most likely ovulating the eggs.
Another sign that a woman’s body is ovulating, the body’s temperature will slightly increase above its average in order to accommodate an expected human life. So the way to know if you’re ovulating is by knowing how hot you usually are.
Once you know how hot your body temperature usually is, you can then use a basal thermometer to monitor your temperature, and when it starts to rise you’ll know you’re ovulating. That or you have a fever, it’s really anyone’s guess!
1 How to Increase Your Chances of Pregnancy During Ovulation
While there seems to be an endless stream of irresponsible children having kids at an unimaginably young age completely by accident, there also seems to be those of us who actually want a baby, but are having a little bit of trouble conceiving.
There are a few things you can do before and during ovulation to maximize the chances that you will successfully conceive. The first thing you need to know, is that smokers have a 50% less chance of conceiving than non-smokers. PERIOD. That is not an arguable assumption, that is simply a fact, so if you’re a smoker and trying to conceive, but having trouble, then it might be the reason why.
Another thing that might cause problems is caffeine. There are also kits and other drugs which can be used and taken to increase the chances of pregnancy; there are actually so many different prescribed methods, including hormone treatment, exercise, the right way to eat and many other things. Even the position you have sex in is said to affect the end result. However this seems to be another article altogether, probably the next one!