Ovulation is an important part of the reproductive process. Keeping track of when you might be ovulating can help when you’re trying to get pregnant. It can also help you understand your body and be able to better identify when there is a concern.
Ovulation is a process where a mature egg is released from the ovary each month.
There are methods you can use to track when ovulation might be occurring.
Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, your ovulation health is still important.
The ovulation process is one part of the menstrual cycle, which begins on the first day of your period, and ends on the first day of the next period. It can help to understand ovulation so you can anticipate your most fertile time of the month.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is a process where a mature egg is released from the ovary each month. The egg moves out of the ovary into the fallopian tube where it can live for 12 to 24 hours. If sperm are present, the egg can be fertilized, where it next will travel to the uterus and implant. If fertilization doesn’t take place, your body will reabsorb the egg.
In a typical 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation usually happens around day 14. However, this can vary widely among women since many don’t have a 28-day cycle. A normal cycle is considered anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Most people will have their period 14 to 16 days after they ovulate, even if their cycle is longer or shorter than average.
How do you know when you’re ovulating?
Whether you’re trying to conceive, or hoping to avoid pregnancy, there are some ways you can detect ovulation will be occurring in your body.
Changes in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus is produced by the cervix and is a fluid in your vaginal canal that is thick, white, and sticky before ovulation. Right before you ovulate, you may notice your cervical mucus becomes clear and slippery. This is known as egg-white cervical mucus because the consistency is similar to egg whites. This change helps sperm be able to swim more easily to the egg.
Changes in body temperature
During the ovulation period, your basal body temperature (BBT) rises slightly, about 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit. You can’t measure this slight change with a regular thermometer. You need to use a special BBT thermometer and your temperature needs to be taken before you get out of bed in the morning.
By recording your temperatures throughout several cycles, you might start noticing a pattern of when ovulation occurs. Your fertilization is at its highest two to three days before your temperature rises.
What you might feel during ovulation
You might notice other signs in your body that you’re ovulating, but these aren’t reliable ways to predict when you’ll ovulate. You may notice you are experiencing:
- Sore, tender breasts.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Minor pain in the pelvis or abdomen.
- Mood and appetite changes.
- Increased libido.
- Slight back pain known as mittelschmerz.
What are your chances of pregnancy each month?
While an egg can live in the fallopian tube for up to 24 hours, sperm can live inside a woman’s body for three to five days. So out of each month, there are only a few days where you can get pregnant, which are the five days leading up to ovulation, until the day after you ovulate.
Your chances of getting pregnant every month depending on your age. Typically, the younger you are, the higher your chances you have of conceiving each month. Your 20s are the years when your fertility is the highest. By the time you’re in your mid-40s, your chances of pregnancy are slim, even if you use fertility treatments. This is due to both the quality and the number of remaining eggs you have.
What if you’re not trying to get pregnant?
Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, your ovulation health is still important. Knowing your cycles can help you anticipate when your period might be coming, as well as if your cycles are regular or irregular. Being able to predict when you’ll start your period can help you be better prepared. This is especially helpful if you experience heavy or painful periods.
Tracking ovulation can help you better understand your hormones and if there could be a concern. Certain health issues can be affected by ovulation as well as the hormones involved every month.
Tracking ovulation can help your healthcare provider identify conditions such as:
- Certain thyroid disorders.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Ovarian insufficiency.
Keeping track of your cycles and reporting any concerns or changes to your healthcare provider can help diagnose a problem so treatment can begin without delay.
And down the road, tracking ovulation can help you figure out whether or not you might be in perimenopause. Perimenopause usually occurs in your mid-40s and can last several years. It’s a process where fertility starts to wind down. You might notice changes in your menstrual cycle, such as skipping periods, or your periods being lighter or heavier than normal. Menopause is the time in your life when your periods eventually stop.
Ovulation is an important process if you’re trying to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. But it’s also useful to understand how your body works to help identify when something might be wrong.
- ACOG. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods of Family Planning.
- ACOG. Perimenopausal Bleeding and Bleeding After Menopause.
- ASRM. Age and Fertility.
- Cleveland Clinic. Ovulation.