What is Ovulation?

Ovulation occurs when one or more eggs are released from one of the ovaries. It occurs near the end of the cycle between the times when you are fertile. A remarkably wide variety of between three and 30 eggs mature inside your ovaries per month. The ripest egg is then released into your fallopian tubes attached to your womb (uterus).

When does Ovulation Happen?

Your body prepares itself for a pregnancy every month. Throughout this cycle, one follicle (there may be two on rare occasions) develops in your ovary and produces an egg, which is then released due to a brain-regulated rush of hormones.

It typically occurs in the mid-term, around 14 days in during your cycle, but period lengths between women can differ greatly, which can make ovulation prediction very difficult.

There’s no fixed cycle or order as to which ovary ovulates every month: it may be the same, or different. When the egg is released from the follicle, it flows down to the fallopian tube where it has the chance for sperm to reach it. When that occurs and there is positive fertilisation, an embryo is then produced and goes on to be implanted in the womb.

When fertilisation does not occur, the lining of the womb will be shed and you will undergo a monthly period or menses.


How Long Does Ovulation Last?

The length of the menstrual cycle differs from woman to woman, and from cycle to cycle, but is usually 23 to 35 days.

Ovulation typically happens 12-16 days prior to the next date. Most women believe on day 14 they ovulate but that is only an estimate. Many women will eventually ovulate on a particular day of the menstrual cycle, and this will also range from cycle to cycle. In fact, 46% of menstrual periods differ by seven days or more.

A few people tend to experience a twinge of discomfort when ovulating, but others experience no discomfort at all and no other visible symptoms of ovulation are present.

it is important to have sex on your fertile days to get pregnant; if you want to figure out what your most fertile days are, it is important to get to know your own body and your own personal menstrual cycle.

What Triggers Ovulation?

During the first part of your cycle, you produce a Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates your body to begin the ovulation phase of maturing eggs.

It also increases the amount of oestrogen being released and they cause a release of Luteinizing Hormone, or LH, when oestrogen levels are high enough, allowing the mature egg to burst out of the follicle. 

Occasionally, if two follicles develop and burst, more than one egg will be produced, which is how non-identical twins are conceived.

How can you Tell if You’re Ovulating? 

You will be able to tell when you’re ovulating if you learn to ‘sense’ your body and get to know your cycle. Each woman is different, so you should spend time familiarising yourself with the behaviour pattern of your own body, but some general rules will help.

One of the simplest ways of doing this is to check for improvements in the cervical secretions. You may feel very dry for a day or so after your cycle and then get a whitish form of secretion. And, as you begin to ovulate, your vagina’s secretion transforms into a smooth, sticky, mucus-like discharge. It’s wet and stretchy, like raw egg white, and generally very visible, so start looking for it. It is a positive indication that you are ovulating. The discharge will change again after ovulation, and will become translucent and white.

Ovulation Last

Why do Women have Ovulation Problems?

There are several reasons a woman can have difficulty ovulating. For example, some women have blocked fallopian tubes due to surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disorder

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, an elevated level of hormones may cause ovulation to be irregular or fail to occur at all. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder in which certain hormone levels are abnormal, and a woman does not get her period, or it is irregular. Thyroid problems can also make ovaries less likely to release an egg.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a woman who is underweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 or less may have irregular menstrual cycles, which may also lead to ovulation ceasing. Obesity can also lead to prolonged cycles and prolonged ovulation, at the opposite end of the weight continuum.

Further, factors such as stress and physical exercise may impact the timing of ovulation. Emotional or physical stress may prevent ovulation. According to the Mayo Clinic, doing too much vigorous physical exercise can also hinder ovulation.

Ovulation complications are only one potential cause of infertility, which, according to the CDC, affects about 12% of women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44.


A period is a part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds for a few days from her vagina.

This occurs every 28 days or so for most women, although it is normal for cycles to be more or less regular than this, from day 21 to 40 of their menstrual cycle.

Your period will last between 3 to 8 days, but typically lasts for around 5 days. During the first 2 days the bleeding appears to be the worst.

The blood will turn red when the time is at its worst. It may be rosy, grey or black on other days.

Over this time, you’ll lose about 30 to 72ml (5 to 12 teaspoons) of blood, but some women bleed more than this.

You’re most fertile within a day or two of ovulation.

So if you have sex at some point during the week before ovulation, you can get pregnant, because sperm can live for up to 7 days inside a woman’s body.

Try having sex every two or three days. Then, when you ovulate, sperm with strong motility should be in the appropriate position. Regular sex all the way through your cycle gives you the best chance to conceive.

Having intercourse when your cervical mucus is warm and slippery and most receptive to sperm can improve your chances of pregnancy as well.

Each woman is completely different. The average cycle is 28 days but many healthy, fertile women will have a cycle that is slightly shorter or longer than this, and on day 14 they do not automatically ovulate. But to them this may be perfectly natural. Whereas the lead up to ovulation, or follicular phase, can differ, the luteal phase, or time after ovulation, is typically the same, around 14 days.

Some women feel a sharp pain in their lower abdomen, when the ovary releases the ripe egg. Women will occasionally lose a small amount of blood while ovulating too, and this is all perfectly normal. They shouldn’t feel a massive amount of discomfort, however. When you bleed spontaneously between periods, or feel a lot of pain, consult your GP.

When you monitor ovulation from one month to the next, you can find that you do not frequently ovulate or — in some cases — do not ovulate at all. That is a good reason to talk to a doctor.

Although factors like stress or diet may influence the exact day of ovulation from month to month, there are also medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or amenorrhea, which may cause ovulation to be sporadic or stop completely.

Both disorders may cause other hormonal imbalance-related symptoms, including excess body or facial hair, acne and even infertility.

No. Although the egg can only be fertilised within 12 to 24 hours of release, sperm can live in the reproductive tract for up to 5 days under ideal conditions. So, you may become pregnant if you have sex in the days leading up to ovulation, or on the day of ovulation itself.

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