Women's Health

Ovulation: The Top 10 Questions

1 How Do You Know When You Ovulate?

The cycles of women vary and they are not always regular; so to know that you are ovulating and on which particular day during your cycle that you are ovulating, it is advised to watch your fertility signs during the cycle and make sure to record them on a chart. 

The most precise methods of discerning when ovulation is about to occur include:

  • Changes in mucus - around the time of ovulation, it can be noticed that the mucus of the vagina is clear, slippery, slick, and possesses an egg white consistency. This is the best indication of when ovulation is actually taking place.
  • Use an ovulation predictor kit - begin testing with the ovulation predictor kit a few days prior to the estimated time of ovulation. Subtract seventeen days from the average cycle length and begin testing from this day of the cycle. A positive result means that ovulation is going to happen within the following 24 to 36 hours.
  • Basal body temperature - record the basal body temperature (BBT) every morning before leaving the bed. The BBT increases around half a degree Celsius after the ovulation has occurred. By charting the temperature, it is easy to perceive when the elevation in temperature and ovulation takes place. This can help work out a woman’s own pattern of ovulation.

2 What Day Is Normal to Ovulate?

Work out the length of a woman’s normal cycle of menstruation. Day one is the first day of the menstrual period while the last day is the day before the next menstruation will begin. Ovulation then occurs around two weeks prior to the next expected menstruation period. So if the average menstrual cycle of a woman is 28 days, she will ovulate on the 14th day. Thus, the ‘fertile window’ is the six days leading up to and including ovulation. The three days that lead up to and include ovulation are the most fertile.

The days that are most fertile in the cycle can vary depending on a woman’s cycle duration. For example:

  • If a woman has 28 days between their periods, ovulation usually occurs on day 14 and the days that are most fertile are days 12, 13, and 14.
  • If a woman has extended cycles, 34 days between their periods for instance, ovulation occurs on day 20 and the days that are most fertile are days 18, 19, and 20.
  • If a woman has cycles that are shorter, like 22 days between periods, ovulation occurs on day 8 and the days that are most fertile are days 6, 7, and 8.

3 What Is Ovulation?

Ovulation is a part of the female menstrual cycle where a mature ovarian follicle, which is a part of the ovary, discharges an egg (also referred to as an oocyte, ovum, or female gamete). Ovulation is the process where the egg travels down to the fallopian tube. It is here that it may be met by a sperm and become fertilized.

The hypothalamus, a part of the brain, is the one which controls ovulation. It is responsible for sending signals. These signals will instruct the anterior lobe and pituitary gland to secrete certain hormones such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). This process usually takes place between the 10th and 19th day into the menstruation cycle. In addition, this is the time in which women are most fertile because their hormones are elevated.

Ovulation has three phases. The first phase is the follicular phase (periovulatory). It is followed by the ovulation phase (ovulatory). This phase lasts from 24 to 48 hours and is the period of fertility. The last phase is the luteal phase (postovulatory).

Ovulation happens about two weeks before the next expected period.

4 Do You Have a Discharge When You Ovulate?

Vaginal discharge is normal and it varies during the menstrual cycle.

Before ovulation, there is a lot of mucus produced and it is increased up to 30 times after ovulation. It is also more watery and elastic during this phase of a woman’s cycle. Women may want to wear panty liners during this time.

A regular vaginal discharge will consist of a teaspoon each day that is transparent or white, thick to thin, and odorless. This discharge is formed by the normal fluids and bacteria that the vaginal cells put off. The discharge is more obvious at different times depending on ovulation, menstrual flow, birth control, and sexual activity. It is not normal for the discharge to be brown, dark, or discolored a day or two following the menstrual period. If the discharge has a yellow or green color, is clumpy like cottage cheese, or has a bad odor, it is something that must be worried about.

5 Signs of Ovulation Mucus

Knowing the appearance of the cervical mucus can help track a woman’s cycle as well as help identify the most fertile days for a woman.

Women can gauge their cervical mucus by checking the toilet paper after they wipe, or by inserting a clean finger into the vagina and reaching near the cervix. In addition, more cervical mucus can be found when a check is done after making a bowel movement. The most fertile of all cervical mucus types is the so-called ‘egg white’ cervical mucus. This is because it allows the sperm to easily swim into the cervix. The consistency of the mucus is similar to raw egg whites and it can be stretched one to two inches without breaking in the middle. Meanwhile, the watery cervical mucus is the second best cervical mucus for conception. It allows sperm to travel unhindered into the cervix; However, it does not make a sperms job quite easy. Watery cervical mucus is clear in color and drips or runs off on the fingers. Cervical mucus that is watery tends to produce the feeling that you’ve leaked urine into your underwear.

A non-fertile cervical mucus is the creamy type as it greatly hinders the movement of the sperm. It can be a pearl white or a creamy yellow, is thick, and possesses a lotion-like texture when it is rubbed between the fingers. The least fertile cervical mucus is the sticky type. It is thick, chunky, and has a paste-like texture making it difficult for the sperm to swim through.

6 How Long Do You Ovulate?

A regular ovulation cycle will last around 24 hours each month. Once the egg is released from the ovary, it will dissolve or die within 12 to 24 hours if it is not fertilized. If the fertilization doesn’t happen, the uterine lining and egg will shed. As a result, menstrual bleeding will take place after two weeks. Although ovulation will only occur one day per month, getting pregnant does not happen only with one day. The window for conception is six days. It includes the 5 days leading up to ovulation and also the day ovulation occurs. The reason for this is that the sperm can survive in the female body for up to 5 days. If a woman has intercourse a few days before ovulation or during ovulation, there could be sperm that remains in the body to meet an egg as it travels down the fallopian tube. The process of conception occurs in the fallopian tube, not in the uterus.

An egg that is fertilized will continue its journey down to the fallopian tube. It will then implant or attach itself to the uterus 6 to 10 days after conception.

7 How Many Days After Your Period Do You Ovulate?

In general, ovulation usually occurs on day 15 of a woman’s menstrual cycle; however, it’s not the same for everyone. The menstrual cycle of most women who are of childbearing age lasts between 28 and 32 days. Ovulation usually hits between days 10 and 19 of that cycle—about 12 to 16 days before the next period.

In healthy women, ovulation takes place 14 days prior the onset of their period. So if a woman’s cycle is 35 days, ovulation will happen on day 21 of that cycle. If the cycle is 21 days, ovulation will occur on day seven. The timing of ovulation can vary from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle. It is recommended to get familiar with the body’s menstrual calendar for at least three months or so. Doing this will help a woman better estimate her own ovulation cycle.

For some women ovulation can be irregular or it doesn’t always take place. In general, people who are pregnant, have gone through menopause, or people who take birth control pills consistently and on time, won’t be able to ovulate.

8 How Many Days After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant?

It is possible for a woman to get pregnant soon after the period ends depending on how long the bleeding lasts and when in the menstrual cycle the woman ovulates. Technically, pregnancy is only likely during the 5 days prior to ovulation through to the day of ovulation.

The ‘fertile window’ is the 6 days within a woman’s cycle which reflects the lifespan of the ovum (24 hours) and the lifespan of sperm (5 days). If a woman has intercourse 6 or more days before ovulation, the chance that she will become pregnant is zero. If she has intercourse 5 days before ovulation, there is a 10 percent chance of pregnancy. The probability of becoming pregnant rises steadily until the 2 days before and including the day of ovulation.

When the ‘fertile window’ ends, the possibility of pregnancy decreases rapidly and 12 to 24 hours after a woman ovulates, she will no longer be able to become pregnant during that cycle. For woman that are not fully aware of their window of fertility or when they ovulate, it is recommended that they have sexual intercourse every 2 to 3 days to help optimize their chances of conception.

9 What Are the Symptoms of Ovulation Pain?

Ovulation pain or ‘mittelschmerz’ is the most uncomfortable ovulation symptom for some women. Ovulation pain is a sudden, persistent, and constant pain in the lower abdomen during ovulation. It is also a sudden twang, twinge, or pop in the lower abdomen which coincides with the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation pain occurs about 14 days before a woman’s period when the ovary releases an egg as part of the menstruation cycle. This phenomenon is not normal. A mild sensation is normal, but severe, acute, debilitating, or stabbing pain is not. The pain can be felt on either the right or left side of the abdomen depending on which ovary is releasing the egg.

Ovulation pain is a red flag which can indicate an underlying health problem that should be addressed. In fact, some of the underlying causes could result in fertility issues that could prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. Ovulation pain could indicate that a woman has ovarian cysts, adhesions from a previous surgery of the abdomen, or other health problems. Thus, ovulation pain must be investigated immediately, especially if a woman is trying to conceive. This is because the pain could be a symptom of a medical condition that may result in infertility.

10 What Is Cervical Mucus?

Cervical mucus, also known as cervical fluid, is the fluid produced in the cervix during the menstrual cycle. It is more observable at the cervix or as it passes into the vagina. Cervical mucus is considered the best sign for learning about the presence of estrogen in the bloodstream. Also, it is one of the best indications to tell when a woman is most fertile before ovulation. The primary functions of cervical mucus include to support, nourish, and transport sperm.

Cervical mucus changes with fluctuations in hormones. Following a period, the mucus is typically dry before becoming sticky, then cream-textured, then watery, before its most fertile state – clear, stretchy, and slippery. Mucus that is highly fertile resembles raw egg white. This best assists the sperm on its journey to the egg as well as gives an alkaline protection from the acidic environment of the vagina. Observing the cervical mucus several times a day is vital, as this is considered one of the more dependable ovulation symptoms. The mucus changes in response to being at fertile or infertile stages of the menstrual cycle. Also, it is a good sign of when the fertility has returned after having a baby.