Ovulation is part of the menstrual cycle. It’s the name for the process when a mature egg is released from the ovary.


Once the egg is released, it travels through the Fallopian tubes, where is has the potential to be fertilized by sperm.


If the egg is fertilized, it will turn into an embryo. In just a few days, it will travel into the uterine cavity where it will be implanted, and the fetus will begin to develop.


If the egg has not been fertilized, instead of being implanted in the uterine cavity it will be rejected from the body, along with the lining of the uterus. This process is called menstruation.  

Everyone knows from a school anatomy class that ovulation is critical for a woman to get pregnant. But how can you use this knowledge to increase your chances of a successful pregnancy? We're going to go into the details.


What is Ovulation?


Ovulation is the final stage in the process of maturation of eggs that have been "resting" in the ovaries since birth. The initial part of the maturation and selection process takes place in childhood, but the eggs only begin to mature completely when the body starts regular and cyclic production of hormones- FSH and LH. This occurs when your body reaches puberty.


Then, every day for the rest of your life (until menopause occurs), under the influence of the hormone FSH, several of your eggs will move from a state of "rest" to "active".


An egg matures inside of a follicle in the ovary. The follicle creates favorable conditions for the egg’s maturation by regulating temperature, chemical environment, oxygen, nutrients, and hormones.


The development of the egg is measured by the change in the size of the follicle. At this stage, the eggs are competitors to one another: one will become dominant and reach full maturity, while the others will die in the fight. The duration of this very demanding "race" varies from 21 to 35 days.


Every month, with a normal menstrual cycle, ovulation results in the release of one ovum from the ovary, or, very rarely, two. 


At the ovulation site, a yellow body is also formed in the ovary, which produces a hormone called progesterone. This hormone is extremely important for a successful pregnancy; it’s the one that promotes implantation of the egg in the uterine lining.


When the supply of eggs in the body runs out, ovulation will stop and menopause will occur.


When Do You Experience Ovulation?


In each cycle, the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) triggers 5-12 follicles simultaneously. Rapidly growing follicles produce female hormones (estrogens). The increase in concentration of estrogens in the bloodstream eventually causes a surge in Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which is essential for the normal functioning of the reproductive system.


Ovulation will occur within occurs within 12 to 24 hours of being triggered by LH. The largest and strongest of these 5 - 12 follicles will rupture and the egg will be released during ovulation.


During ovulation, you have the highest chance of getting pregnant. This is why many trying couples plan to have intercourse during these critical hours.


Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, usually between the 14th and 16th day of the 28- to 30-day cycle. Of course, it does not happen the same for everyone, but the logic remains the same. If your cycle is quicker, for example, 21 days, ovulation should occur around the seventh day. In order to calculate more accurately, you should use data from the past three months.


However, not all women ovulate every month. If this does not happen, the menstrual cycle is called anovulatory. There are many different reasons for to occur, either permanently or temporarily, but if a woman is not ovulating, she is not capable of conceiving.


Statistics show that 20-30% of cases of infertility are due to issues with ovulation. Therefore, ovulation testing is an essential part of the initial fertility investigation.


How Do I Know if I am Ovulating?


There are several key signals of ovulation to look out for.


1. Regular menstrual cycle


The process of ovulation is based on the foundation of cyclic production of certain hormones and the subsequent development of follicles. Therefore, the main sign of ovulation is the presence of a regular menstrual cycle. For 90% of menstruating women, the cycle duration varies from 23 to 35 days.


2. Mid-cycle pain


For some women, ovulation is accompanied by constant slight pain in the lower abdomen. Usually, it happens in the middle of a cycle.


It is important to understand that ovulation that is severely painful is not the norm. In fact, it could be a sign of ovarian problems in lower abdomen. If you are experiencing severe pain during ovulation, it’s best to consult with a doctor, especially if you're trying to conceive a child as this could be related to a greater fertility issue.


3. Increasing basal body temperature


The increase in basal temperature after ovulation is due to the released progesterone. This hormone effects thermoregulation which results in a slight increase in body temperature.


Why does progesterone affect body temperature? The purpose is to provide the most comfortable environment for embryo development at an early stage.


To understand where you are in your ovulation cycle, measure your temperature every morning after waking up throughout the cycle. It is better to buy a special thermometer, which is designed to detect the smallest fluctuations with an accuracy of +/- 0.05 degrees.


After ovulation, your temperature will rise and remain the same until the onset of menstruation. Closer to menstruation, if the egg has not been fertilized, the temperature will fall back to normal. If you the fertilized egg develops into an embryo and you become pregnant, your body temperature will remain slightly elevated.


4. Changes in cervical mucus fluid (cervical mucus)


The consistency of cervical mucus is directly related to estrogen concentrations.


Immediately after menstruation, there is not enough mucus and the vagina is dry. As the concentration of estrogen grows, mucus becomes stickier and develops a creamy consistency. The concentration increases and reaches its highest level just before ovulation. At this point, you’ll notice a sharp increase in transparent, watery secretions.


What is the purpose of these secretions? This viscous consistency helps sperm to pass through the cervical canal and cavity to the ovum faster. It also protects them from the acidic environment of the vagina. This creates the most favorable conditions for a successful pregnancy.


After ovulation, the amount of secretions drops sharply. They lose their transparency and get denser. Delivery of sperm to the collection site becomes difficult, almost impossible.


5. Other Symptoms


The remaining symptoms do not indicate ovulation as reliably, but we will list them. There may be an increase in sexual desire, increased sensitivity of nipples and breasts, good mood and strength, increased sense of smell and taste.

Some people have a tendency to swell during this period. Sometimes there are slight ointments of blood, or brown secretions.


How Can I Predict My Ovulation?


If you want to determine your own ovulation cycle, the most accurate way is to visit the gynecologist.


However, there are also methods you can follow without leaving your home. These methods can help you detect changes in the body that signal ovulation.


Ovulation Prediction Kit


You can buy an Ovulation Prediction Kits from your nearest pharmacy or supermarket (or even online!). These kits include several tests that work similarly to pregnancy tests: they measure the level of Luteinizing Hormone in urine, which rises sharply before ovulation. A positive test indicates that ovulation will occur within the next 12, or 24 hours.


There are some more technologically advanced kits, such as the Clearblue ovulation test. This test is able to see the concentration of two hormones at once: Luteinizing Hormone and Estradiol. This allows for a greater precision in determining the time of ovulation.


Ovulation Microscope or Saliva Test


You can also get an ovulation microscope easily online or at your local pharmacy. It looks like a lipstick tube. Due to the rise in estrogen levels during ovulation, there are changes in the characteristics and chemical composition of not only cervical mucus but also saliva.


These handheld mini-microscopes make it possible to study samples of dried saliva, record changes in physical properties, and measure the content of estrogen and salts on different days of the cycle.


On days of approaching ovulation, you will observe a linear and dashed structure that resembles fern leaves. The fern structure appears 3-4 days before ovulation and are gone in 2-3 after.


Ovulation calculator


To use an ovulation calculator, enter the starting date of your last menstruation and the usual duration of the entire cycle. It automatically marks the most suitable days for successful conception. There are a lot of apps that can calculate this for you, many of which you can download for free on your smartphone. This simple tool can save you an unnecessary trip to the gynecologist.


Planning A Successful Pregnancy


For many women, understanding your ovulation cycle is simply not enough to result in a healthy pregnancy. For example, single women or women with infertility issues will need to go to additional steps if they want to conceive.


Fortunately, AVA Clinic is here to help women like you on your path to motherhood. To learn more about our fertility services, Contact Us today.