A young woman may have heard about ovulation during a sex education class at school or from a parent after starting her period. However, many women don't start getting really curious about ovulation until they begin trying to conceive.
There are numerous books, resources, experts, blogs and facts out there that educate on this topic. But we're here to break it down in a quick and easy-to-understand way. So whether someone is attempting to grow their family or just looking to know more about themselves, scroll down to read about what ovulation is, why it occurs, what symptoms it may bring, and more.
10 What Is Ovulation?
Let’s start with the basics: what is ovulation, anyway? When does it happen? Why does it take place?
Generally, a woman ovulates every month, and during this time, an egg will be released from the ovary towards the fallopian tube and on to the uterus. The uterus thickens during ovulation, to get ready for a fertilized egg. With fertilization, a woman’s egg connects with a man's sperm, and if the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, an embryo will begin forming. However, if conception does not happen, then the uterus will shed its lining, which is known as menstruation.
9 The Signs & Symptoms
A woman can tell if she is ovulating by looking out for a couple of signs and symptoms. Sometimes, there is spotting. There may be a slight pain in the lower stomach, near where the ovaries are located.
Hormones will change, and this, in turn, will cause body temperature to rise and the texture of cervical mucus to change. Right before ovulation starts, there will be more cervical mucus, and it will have a consistency like raw egg whites, which assists sperm and means that the body is getting ready. There are also at-home tracking kits, which can help a woman know exactly when she is ovulating.
8 Know About Eggs
Women are born with millions of immature eggs, and during a usual ovulation cycle, one egg is released. After being released from the ovary, an egg lives 12-24 hours, and the implanting of a fertilized egg usually happens 6-12 days after ovulation (if successful). Whenever an egg is not fertilized, it gets absorbed by the uterine lining, and the body will begin menstruating again.
And the biological clock really is ticking: A female fetus has around seven million eggs, that number drops to two million by the time the baby is born, and when puberty is reached, there are around 300,000 and 500,000 eggs left. When a woman reaches her 30s, fertility decreases until menopause.
7 Know That Some Women Don’t Ovulate
Some things can keep a woman from ovulating. Yes, anovulation is when the ovaries do not release an oocyte (a common cause of infertility). And some women even have their periods but not ovulation cycles.
This can be caused by factors such as a hormonal imbalance or a weight loss and can be helped/fixed with treatments like lifestyle changes and in vitro fertilization. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, 10 percent of U.S. women (which is 6.1 million) of the ages 15-44 have a difficult time conceiving or being able to maintain that pregnancy. This is why it's so important to regularly meet with a doctor, especially if a woman has been trying to conceive for some time.
6 How To Track Ovulation
All women have a cycle, which goes from the first day of a period until the first day of the next period (usually 28-32 days). Based on that information, a woman can track her ovulation with the first day of the last menstrual period (calculating 12-16 days from the next expected period), as most of the time, ovulation happens between the 11th and 21st day of a cycle.
A calculation will help with tracking, as will some other methods, such as using an app and taking temperature; remember, changing hormones lead to a changing body temperature, and a woman who is trying to get pregnant can take her temperature each morning (her basal body temperature) and look for patterns, in order to know more about her fertile window.
5 When The Most Fertile Days Are
To elaborate on this point, a woman who is looking to grow her family should know when she is actually most fertile. This is normally in the five days before ovulation and on the actual ovulation day. By knowing that ovulation happens 14 days before the next period and by using some of the tricks on this list, a person can get a better idea about all of this, to know when the best time to try for a baby is!
And speaking of that part… The man involved is important, too, since sperm can stay around for up to seven days, so planning on making attempts on Days 11 to 16.
4 Some Things That Can Help Fertility
There are tons of articles out there that state what to eat and do and take in order to increase fertility. Some women are just naturally fertile, though, and just because one tactic works quickly for one person does not mean it is a go-to step for all.
In general, though, overall health is important when it comes to fertility. If a woman is tracking her ovulation and hoping to get pregnant, she needs to make sure she is getting her daily vitamins and nutrients and that she is engaging in regular physical activity.
3 Know Things That Can Harm Fertility
On the other hand, there are also things that can harm a woman in this area. But, again, overall wellness is key, so things like too much caffeine or alcohol and smoking can harm fertility. An unhealthy weight can lead to a woman struggling with conception, as can health conditions and hormonal imbalances. Even normal stress can put a strain on the body, in a way that messes with fertilization.
It's important for women to meet with their doctors before and throughout this journey, in order to make sure they are doing all they can.
2 Know The Odds
As mentioned, most women start paying more attention to their ovulation cycles when they are trying to get pregnant. And there as so many factors to consider, but women should also know their odds of actually conceiving. When a woman is 25, there is only about a 20 to 25 percent chance (each ovulation cycle) of it working. When a woman is 30, there is only about a 15 percent chance (each ovulation cycle) of it working. When a woman is 35, there is less than a 10 percent chance (each ovulation cycle) of it working.
Therefore, if a woman has not gotten pregnant after a year of trying (trying in the right way, at the right times), then she should consider seeing a fertility specialist.
1 The Struggle Is Real
To conclude: the struggle is real. The struggle of really understanding ovulation, the struggle of tracking those super fertile days, the struggle of successfully conceiving, the struggle of going back and forth on wanting 2.5 kids and a white picket fence or not…
Hopefully, this piece provided some good info for everyone, and hopefully those who are struggling know that they are not alone. A lot goes into all of this, and our bodies are complicated things. Try to track cycles, though. Try to be as healthy as possible. Try to meet with a specialist if things are not going as planned. And through it all, try to stay as calm and positive as possible.