Ovulation is the release of an egg from a follicle in either of the two ovaries in a woman. Once ovulation occurs, the egg is picked up by one of the fallopian tubes and is slowly pushed towards the uterus. If at this time, you have relations, the semen is deposited in the vagina, out of which the motile healthy sperm swim out towards the mouth of the uterus, the cervix and through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. One of the sperm must penetrate the egg and fertilize it. After that, the fertilized egg keeps growing and developing into an embryo and also keeps traveling through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. The embryo then attaches to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) and implants there. It starts growing there and after a period of 9 months, a mature baby is born.
Ovulation is triggered by a surge of luteinizing hormone in the woman’s blood. Ovulation occurs approximately 36 hours after the start of LH surge. If the egg is fertilized and implants in the uterus, then a pregnancy happens. Otherwise, the level of hormones in the blood falls and the uterine lining- (endometrium) is shed and you get your periods.
The egg is able to remain in a viable state for 12- 24 hours after ovulation while the sperm can survive for 3-5 days in the reproductive tract. So ideally the sperm should already be present in the fallopian tubes at the time of ovulation. You need to have relations between five days before ovulation to up to 1 day after it to have maximum chances of conceiving.
So ovulation is important for a pregnancy to happen. How can we know if ovulation is occurring and at what time in your cycle? During the menstrual cycle, there are changes in levels of different hormones which lead to changes in different body organs.
What are the symptoms or changes you will notice in your body?
1. Cervical mucus changes-There are changed in the character of the cervical secretions during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Just before the release of an egg, the secretions become clear, stretching and increase in amount. After ovulation, the secretions become thick, decrease in amount and whitish in color.
2. Basal Body temperature(BBT) changes: After ovulation, a hormone called progesterone starts increasing which leads to a slight increase in the body temperature by 0.4- 0.8 Fahrenheit. If you take your basal body temperature daily with the help of a thermometer, just after waking up and before getting out of bed, you may notice a slight fall in the temperature just before ovulation followed by a rise starting after ovulation. Some women despite ovulating regularly may not show a biphasic pattern of BBT.
3. Slight pain or cramping on one side: Also known as Mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”), there may be a slight pain, one-sided in the lower part of your abdomen at the time of egg release. It occurs approximately 14 days before your next expected periods. It occurs on the side on which the ovary releases the egg. It may be a dull or sharp pain. It may last from few minutes to few hours. But it can last up to a day also. Some women may have this pain every month, some may have it occasionally and some may never experience it.
The reasons for this pain may be
- The stretching of the ovarian capsule just before the egg is released from the surface of the ovary.
- The fluid or blood released at the time of egg release may irritate the lining of your abdomen causing pain.
The pain is usually mild and doesn’t require any treatment. If you have pain which is severe or associated with problems like vomiting, loose motions, etc or occurs during any other time of your menstrual cycle other than a mid-cycle, you need to consult your doctor.
4. Spotting– You may experience some vaginal spotting at the time of egg release. It may be associated with slight pain in the abdomen.
5. Breast Tenderness-You may feel slight fullness in your breasts. On touching them, you may feel pain and tenderness. This is due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
6. Changes in cervical position: in the first half of the menstrual cycle, there are many changes happening in the cervix (the mouth of the uterus). The cervix during the time of ovulation becomes, soft and high and open. You may be able to feel these changes if you insert a finger and feel it daily. But you may not be able to differentiate it in the beginning.
So you can look out for these changes and have relations during this time to boost your chances of getting pregnant.
If you want to know more contact us at Chaitanya IVF.