What is ovulation?
When people talk about ovulation, it’s generally in the context of fertility: when you’re ovulating, conception may take place and you may become pregnant. While you are ovulating, you are at your most fertile, which is why ovulation testing is so popular while trying to get pregnant. If you can time intercourse around the period during which you are most fertile, you increase your likelihood of getting pregnant.
Ok – so you’re at your most fertile during ovulation. But what’s really going on behind the scenes? During ovulation, your eggs (also called ovum) are released from your ovaries with the final destination being your uterus. Along the way, your egg makes it’s way through the fallopian tubes. Along the journey from ovary to uterus, if sperm meets up with the egg, you may become pregnant.
Your ovaries play an active role in the release of the egg. Before the egg is released, the lining of the uterus prepares for the potentially fertilized egg to be received by thickening its lining. The hormones within your body stimulate this thickening of the uterine lining (also called endometrium). Not all eggs within your body progress to ovulation – at the start of puberty, you have about 300,000 eggs, only 300 of which are ovulated over your lifetime. Interestingly, ovulation occurs on the side of the ovary that has the most mature eggs in that month, which is why some people can ovulate from one ovary more often than the other.
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When does ovulation occur?
You’re on your own schedule, and so are your ovaries. Ovulation varies from woman to woman, but can be roughly predicted to occur within day 11 and day 21 of your cycle. That’s not very specific! That’s why ovulation testing is so popular – pinpointing exactly when your body is ovulating is invaluable for getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy. You can recognize ovulation by a positive ovulation test result.
What are ovulation symptoms?
Similar to the ovulation schedule, ovulation symptoms vary from woman to woman. If you have experienced these symptoms, you don’t need a positive ovulation test to tell you that you’re ovulating. Common symptoms include:
- Changes in sexual desire
- Changes in production of cervical mucus
- Ovulation pain in your lower body
- Softening and opening of the cervix
My ovulation test was positive – what’s next?
The first thing to take note of is the accuracy of the ovulation test used. While some products on the market are highly accurate, there are other products that are not. Some couples can experience infertility issues that are actually the result of products that are not accurate enough. It’s always important to check with the manufacturer of the test to ensure proper accuracy.
The second thing to consider is your personal goals. If you are tracking ovulation for the purposes of getting pregnant, your approach will be the opposite of someone who is trying to avoid pregnancy. To conceive, your body needs one ovum and one sperm. Sperm can survive within the female body for approximately five days, while ovum can live for only 24 hours. Fertilization of the ovum must occur within 12 hours after ovulation for conception to occur.
If your goal is to avoid pregnancy, you should stay clear of intercourse before or during ovulation. This will give you the best chance of preventing the meeting of the sperm and ovum within your body. When you see a positive ovulation test, refrain from any sexual intercourse.
However, if your goal is to get pregnant, that’s a different story! A positive ovulation test result is a great indicator that certain hormones have fluctuated within your body and ovulation is occurring. When you see the positive result, it’s a great time to have intercourse. Additionally, having sex in the period right before ovulation will give your ovum a good chance of meeting sperm on it’s journey during ovulation.
If you’ve timed sex around ovulation, you might wonder whether you are pregnant. While timed intercourse increases your likelihood of conception, there is still a chance pregnancy will not occur. First, the sperm and the egg must meet at the perfect time for fertilization to occur. Secondly, implantation of the egg into the endometrium must occur successfully. This process takes time, which is why it’s best to take a pregnancy test within the advertised window. This will give you the best chance of knowing whether you are pregnant.