Defining Ovulation

Ovulation is the process by which a mature, single egg is released from a follicle that had developed in the ovary. The luteal phase determines the time of ovulation within your menstrual cycle, generally lasting approximately 12 to 16 days.

The process of ovulation is something that occurs rather regularly, typically happening around day 14 of a normal 28-day menstrual cycle. A short window of 12 to 48 hours marks the time in which an egg can be fertilized after being released from the ovary. During this time, you are most fertile and therefore, the likelihood of becoming pregnant is much higher.

Why is Ovulation the Best Time to Try to Get Pregnant?

Typically, the most fertile time of the month will begin four to five days before ovulation and ends anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after ovulation has occurred. These numbers are figured from the fact that sperm are able to survive within the body for four to five days and eggs can live for 24 to 48 hours following their release. Because the egg’s lifespan is short-lived, it is imperative to attempt conception during this time.

If you choose to have intercourse directly before or on the day on which ovulation begins, it is important to note that the sperm can live within your reproductive system. This means that sperm will still be available after ovulation, putting them in direct contact with the egg. As you might suspect, this greatly enhances your chances of becoming pregnant.

Having intercourse extremely close to the time of ovulation means that you will greatly enhance your chances of becoming pregnant. In fertile couples that experience regular cycles, there is a 25 percent chance of becoming pregnant during each period. This means that 75 to 85 percent of women will become pregnant within one year if they are having intercourse without using protection, such as birth control. Of course, this makes knowing your fertile days even more important. Additionally, taking note of cyclic hormonal and physical changes that occur regularly with your menstrual cycle is imperative as this too can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

How do I Know When I’m Going to Ovulate?

Ovulation comes with many physical signs, giving you a good idea as to when it will occur. Some physical signs that you might experience include:

  • Increased Amounts of Vaginal Discharge
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Discomfort in the Lower Abdomen – There are approximately 20 percent of women who will experience discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen while the egg is leaving the ovary. This condition is known as “mittelschmerz” at can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
  • Changes in Cervical Mucus – Before ovulation, cervical mucus is generally cloudy and thick in nature. However, right before ovulation, it will become clear, slippery, and stretchy in a state that resembles raw egg whites.
  • Basal Body Temperature Shifts – Right after ovulation, your body temperature can increase anywhere from 0.4 to 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit.