Ovulation and your Menstrual Cycle
Ovulation is an important part a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. This is the time during the menstrual cycle in which conception can occur.
During Ovulation, a single, mature egg from the ovary is released. This egg is released into the fallopian tube. Once released, the egg can then be fertilized over the next day or so before it begins to disintegrate. If the egg should be fertilized and successfully implants, a woman becomes pregnant. If the egg is not fertilized, it is passed from the woman’s body during menstrual bleeding. This occurs about two weeks after ovulation. For most women, ovulation occurs once a month until menopause, apart from the time that she is pregnant or breastfeeding. For some women, ovulation may be accompanied by mild pain or bleeding.
Ovulation can be broken down into three distinct phases: pre-ovulation, ovulation, and post-ovulation. These are sometimes called the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase.
The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and continues until ovulation. As your period progresses and your hormones change, the eggs in the ovary prepare for release. The uterus lining begins to thicken, which can be recognized by the changes in cervical fluids. For the first few days following your period you will not notice much of a change in the cervical mucous. When you are ovulating, the mucous becomes stretchy and clear, resembling egg whites.
The next phase is the actual ovulation phase. You can calculate the ovulation phase by starting with the first day of the last menstrual period. Most women ovulate sometime between day 11 and day 21. Some women will notice a slight twinge of pain in the abdominal area while ovulating, but many others don’t recognize any other symptoms. This is the portion of the ovulation cycle in which a woman is fertile. The typical length of this phase is from 24 to 48 hours.
The luteal phase begins on the day of ovulation and lasts until the start of the next period. During this phase, a hormone known as LH or luteinizing hormone is released. If an egg has been fertilized, it then implants into the womb. If not, the egg slowly stops producing hormones. The lining of the uterus breaks down, which will prompt your next period to occur, thus restarting your menstrual cycle over again from the beginning.