What Is Ovulation?

what is ovulation

Ovulation is a process when one or more eggs move from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes and is ready for fertilization. This happens midway in a woman’s menstrual cycle, but the timing varies for each woman.

Each month, between 15 and 20 eggs mature inside a woman’s ovaries. The matured egg is released into one of the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes connect ovaries to uterus.


When is My Fertile Window?

For getting pregnant naturally, one of your eggs and your partner’s sperm have to meet in your fallopian tube. Your egg survives for 12 to 24 hours after you’ve ovulated. So, the meeting of egg and sperm has to occur within this time window.

However, man’s sperm can survive for up to seven days. Sperm happily stays in your fallopian tubes, vagina or uterus for this length of time.

This means that you don’t need to have sex on specific time for getting pregnant. You actually have a fertile window of about six days.

This fertile window includes the five days before and the day of ovulation itself. So, if you have sex at any time during your fertile window, your freshly ovulated egg could meet live, healthy sperm and be fertilized.


When Does Ovulation Happen?

Ovulation usually happens between 12 and 14 days before your menstrual cycle starts. For example, say you have a regular 28-day menstrual cycle. Count the first day of your period as day one. Your fertile window is likely to be around days 10 to 15.

However, a lot of women have an irregular cycle. If your cycle is irregular, ovulation may occur a week earlier or later from one month to the next.


What Are the Signs of Ovulation?

You’ll start feeling symptoms that you’re fertile about five days before you ovulate. The main symptoms and signs of ovulation include:

  • Tender breasts
  • Increased body temperature
  • Changes to your cervical mucus
  • Feeling more sexy than usual
  • An ache in your belly


Changes in Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus is the discharge that you see in your knickers or on toilet tissue when you go for a wee. Changes in your cervical mucus can signal when you are fertile. After your period has finished, your cervical mucus gradually increases in amount and changes in texture.

This change reflects the rising levels of the hormone oestrogen in your body. It also shows you are close to ovulating.

You are most fertile when your mucus becomes clear, slippery and stretchy. It’s a bit like raw egg white. This fertile mucus speeds the sperm on its way up through your uterus. It nourishes and protects the sperm as it travels towards your fallopian tubes to meet your egg.


An Ache in Your Belly

About 20% of women can actually feel something happening in their ovaries at the time of ovulation. This can range from mild achiness to twinges of pain. Some women feel ovulation as one-sided backache or a tender area. The condition is called mittelschmerz, it may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.


Feeling Sexy

Feeling sexy, flirty and more sociable may all be signs that you’re at your most fertile. You may notice a peak in sexual desire at this time. You may find your partner becomes a little more possessive and attentive as a result. There’s medical evidence for this!

You may not be aware of it, but you may be showing other signs that you are at your most fertile. Think back over your cycle and you may remember the following happening:


Looking and Feeling Great

You’re likely to feel more physically attractive as you near ovulation. You may be more attractive to others, too. Without realizing it, you may choose clothes that flatter you.


Scent of a Woman

You smell good at this time. Your body odor is more pleasant and sexy to men around the time you’re fertile. You may think that nobody knows you’re ovulating, but those natural scents may give the game away.

Some women use ovulation kits to pinpoint their most fertile time. Most of these kits test for the peak of luteinizing hormone, or LH, which is the actual trigger for egg release. You could use these to find out when you are most fertile during your cycle, although using them to time sex won’t necessarily increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally.


How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting Pregnant?

Try to have sex every two to three days. Then sperm with good motility will be in the right place whenever you ovulate. Regular sex throughout your cycle gives you the best chance of conceiving.

Having sex when your cervical mucus is wet, slippery and most receptive to sperm will also increase your chances of conception. And you’ll be happy to know that the odds are with you.

In normally fertile couples, there is between a 20 per cent and a 25 per cent chance of getting pregnant each cycle.

Over 80 per cent of women aged under 40 who have regular sex without using contraceptives will get pregnant within a year. Over 90 per cent of couples conceive within two years.