A woman’s monthly cycle can be measured from the very first day her menstruation starts until the next first day. On average, the normal cycle is approximately 28 to 32 days. Although this is the average range, what is “normal” differs for each woman. Some have much shorter or much longer cycles. In most cases, ovulation occurs every month. It is the process where an egg that is ready for fertilization is released from the ovary. Once the egg is mature, the ovary releases it to enter the fallopian tube where it waits for the sperm.
The egg only lasts for twelve to twenty-four hours after it leaves the ovary. There are some women that may have spotting when they ovulate (this is normal). Only one egg is released when ovulation occurs as it is the body’s natural way to prevent multiple pregnancies. Once fertilization occurs, the embryo starts making its way towards the uterus. To prepare for implantation that occurs a week after fertilization, the uterine lining thickens. If fertilization does not occur, the lining of the uterus and unfertilized egg will shed, which is the equivalence of menstruation. If you are experiencing unusually elevated levels of stress, illness, or any disruption of your daily routines, your ovulation can be affected. This is also why menstruation can occur without ovulation.
Ovulation can usually be calculated based on your last menstrual period (LMP). The first day of menstruation is day one of your cycle. Most women ovulate between days eleven to days twenty-one of their cycle. This is also known as the most fertile duration as intercourse that occurs in this “fertile time” increases the likelihood of pregnancy. To know what is “normal” for you, it is important to track your cycle to help identify your peak fertile days. You can track your ovulation using basal body temperature (BBT) charting, cervical mucus tracking, or by using an ovulation predictor kit.
Detecting When You Are Ovulating
As mentioned previously, ovulation can be tracked using BBT charting. This is a relatively easy method where the only equipment you need is a basal thermometer that measures up to 0.10 of change in temperature. You will also need a chart to record your daily BBT. You can find free charts online or it might even come together with your purchase of a basal thermometer. To get started, you should measure your BBT the first thing every morning. It must be the first thing you do at approximately the same time every day. The temperature is then recorded on the chart. When you ovulate, you will notice that there is an increase in your BBT.
Cervical mucus racking can also help to tell if you are ovulating. During ovulation, the consistency of the cervical mucus is likened to that of egg whites. It becomes thinner and allows the passage of sperm into the cervix. One of the easiest ways to predict ovulation is using ovulation predictor kits that are easily available in any pharmacy.
3 Main Phases Of The Ovarian Cycle
The ovarian cycle can be divided into 3 main phases known as the:
The follicular phase is also known as the periovulatory phase. The characteristics of this phase is the thickening of the lining of the uterus. The cells surrounding the ovum also starts to mucify and becomes more mucus-like. On day 4 of your cycle, follicle ripening starts. There are some women who ovulate early but the average timing for ovulation is on day 14 of your cycle. Track yours with the methods mentioned above.
In this phase, enzymes are secreted, and a hole is formed. The egg and its surrounding network of cells then pass through this hole and move towards the fallopian tube. This phase lasts about 24 to 48 hours and is known as the period of fertility.
The postovulatory phase is also known as the luteal phase where the luteinizing hormone (LH) is secreted. If the egg is fertilized, it will travel through the fallopian tube into the uterus for implantation. If the egg is not fertilized, it gradually stops producing hormones and eventually disintegrates within 24 to 48 hours. Without fertilization, the lining of the uterus also starts breaking down and is shed along with the unfertilized egg. The shedding of the uterine lining and unfertilized egg is known as menstruation. For most, menstruation usually lasts between 3 to 7 days and by the third day, the hormone estrogen and progesterone are gradually increasing and working to rebuild your endometrium.
Can I get Pregnant Before Ovulation?
If you are on your menses, the chances of you conceiving is almost zero. However, there are some women who are ovulate early. Since sperm can live up to 5 days (in rare cases), there might be a small chance of you conceiving if you have intercourse before ovulation. After you stop menstruating, intercourse is encouraged on a frequent basis (about two to three times a week, or every other day if possible). Although the egg has not been released, frequent intercourse is recommended as you may ovulate earlier than planned. Conception is possible before ovulation! About 10% of conceptions occur from intercourse that occurred seven or more days before ovulation. Your chances also depend on the quality of your cervical mucus. Before ovulation, the cervical mucus is acidic and kills sperm. Net, the quality of the sperm also plays an important role as some sperm may only survive for a few hours.
Can I Get Pregnant During Ovulation
Needless to say, this is the best time for conception. When you ovulate, your body temperature increases about half a degree (this is the basis for BBT charting). Ovulation kits can predict when you ovulate so if it turns positive, intercourse is encouraged in the next 24 to 36 hours. When the egg is ready, the cervical mucus has a pH of 7 to 8 which is ideal for the sperm. When ovulation occurs, spacing between fibers in the cervical mucus also expand and helps promote the transport of sperm through the cervix into the Fallopian tubes where the egg is located. Your chances of conception are the highest during this time if you have intercourse within 36 hours. Remember that the egg has a short live span and will disintegrate if not fertilized. It is best for the sperm to meet the egg four to six hours after it is released. It has been proven that intercourse every other day is effective as every day sex so there is no point stressing over “having to do it” unless you really want to!
Can I Get Pregnant After Ovulation?
After ovulation, the hormone progesterone gradually increases which signals the ovaries to not release any more eggs. The cervical mucus will also dry up and form a plug that prevents any sperm from entering the uterus. Your chances of conception are the lowest after ovulation. There isn’t too much you can do until your new cycle starts.
How Long Do Sperm Survive?
The answer to this question can be quite subjective as it depends on where the sperm is located. If the sperm is on a dry surface, it will be dead once the semen dries up. In a warm body of water, it will live longer as they thrive in wet and warm places. Once inside a woman’s body, it can live for as long as 5 days. Remember that it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg and each ejaculation releases about 100 million sperm. The journey to meet the egg is a tough one and few sperm survive. Many experts believe that this is nature’s way of choosing the best sperm to fertilize the egg.
Some of the best ways to improve sperm quality is to quit smoking, avoid using recreational drugs or steroids, avoid contact with pesticides or heavy metals, limit the intake of alcohol, have a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet and controlling weight, and avoiding briefs and tight pants as heat slows down the process of sperm production.