Planning for a pregnancy?
Understanding how and when ovulation happens can help you achieve pregnancy as women are most fertile during this time, and more likely to conceive.
In fact, we’ve compiled and answered 3 of the most commonly asked questions about ovulation, so you know how to plan your conception chances.
What is Ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the ovary during menstruation, and occurs 12 to 16 days before your next period. During the first half of your menstrual cycle, multiple follicles (fluid-filled sacs containing immature eggs) grow until one emerges as dominant.
That dominant one secretes estradiol, one of the main estrogens that leads to a surge in luteinizing hormone. As a result, the dominant follicle ruptures, and a mature egg is released.
Upon release, the egg travels downwards into the fallopian tube where there it may be fertilised by a sperm.
If fertilised, the egg will travel to the uterus and develop into a pregnancy. If left unfertilised, the egg breaks down and the lining is shed during your menstruation.
How is Ovulation Related to Pregnancy?
Studies have shown that your highest chances of conceiving are two days before ovulation. Once the mature egg is released, it survives for about 12 to 24 hours.
As the egg lives for a short period, your chances of conceiving are better if the sperm have already made their way to the fallopian tube.
While the egg can only be fertilised within that short timeframe, sperm can live in the reproductive tract for up to 5 days. This period is also referred to as the fertility window.
If you have intercourse during your fertility window or on the day of ovulation itself, which is most ideal, you increase your chances for pregnancy.
How Do You Know If You Are Ovulating?
When ovulation begins, the body starts to make progesterone – another hormone that raises your basal body temperature slightly.
One way to tell when your basal body temperature is higher than usual is to track your temperature each morning when you first get out of bed. By studying your basal body temperature over a few months, you may notice a consistent pattern and a change to this pattern might suggest you’re ovulating.
As your body prepares to ovulate, your cervix mucus starts to feels more stretchy and slippery – sometimes resembling raw egg whites. When your cervix mucus feels like this, you are probably in your fertile window.
After ovulation, your discharge may decrease in volume and appear thicker or cloudier than normal.
The following are some other common signs of ovulation:
- Light bleeding or spotting;
- Breast tenderness;
- Increased sexual drive;
- Discomfort or pain on one side of the abdomen.
Healthy couples trying for pregnancy have around a 20 per cent chance of getting pregnant, though this also depends on the circumstances.
But that is a surprisingly good chance, considering you can only conceive around the time of ovulation. If you’re planning for a family, planning to have intercourse the day you ovulate would be ideal but it would also help if you recognised your body’s natural signs of ovulation.