While you try to conceive, you are curious about the process! Hence, you tend to research about how pregnancy happens, what are the chances and when it is most likely to happen. During this research process, you may have chanced upon the term “Ovulation”.
So, here we are giving you a detailed view of what is ovulation, how to find your ovulation period, and how it can help you enhance your natural fertility.
1. What is ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of an egg from its follicle in one of the ovaries of a woman.
2. How does ovulation happen?
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
3. What happens to the egg after ovulation?
After ovulation, the egg is picked up by the fallopian tube whose open fimbrial end sweeps over the surface of the ovary to catch the egg. In the fallopian tube, if a sperm penetrates the egg and fertilizes it, it starts growing into an embryo. Simultaneously the egg is transported towards the uterus by the muscle contractions as well as by flow of fluid due to the beating of cilia (fine hair-like structures) in fallopian tubes in the direction of the uterus.
The egg takes around 80 hours from ovulation till reaching the uterus in morula stage (a stage of embryo development)
4. For how long does the egg remain viable or can be fertilized?
The egg remains viable for up to 24 hours after ovulation. After that, it degenerates, while the sperm can survive for 3-5 days in a woman’s body after intercourse.
5. What is the fertile period?
The fertile period is the time period in your menstrual cycle when you have the maximum chance of conceiving. This is around the time of ovulation. So ideally, live 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 maximize your chances of conceiving.
6. Why do you need to detect the ovulation period?
As we have discussed above the ovulation time is your most fertile period.
To know about it we need to detect the time when ovulation is taking place to increase your chances of pregnancy.
Problems with ovulation are seen in up to 20 % of couples having trouble conceiving.
7. What are the various methods to detect ovulation?
The different methods to detect ovulation period at home include:
a). Standard days method or menstrual calendar method: If you have a regular cycle length, we can calculate what days of the cycle are most fertile. If your cycle is between 26 days and 32 days long, then days 8-19 will be considered your most fertile days. To promote pregnancy you should have relations every day or every other day during this time. This method works best if your cycles are regular and consistently between 26 to 32 days long.
b). Cervical Mucus method/ two days method: This method depends on recognizing changes in the cervical mucus during the menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, the mucus or secretions produced by cervix are thin, watery and slippery/stretchy. After ovulation, the secretions decrease in amount & become thicker. So you can check daily with a finger inserted in to your vagina to see the character of the secretions. If they are thin, clear& slippery you should have relations every day or alternate day.
In Two Days Method, you check the secretions twice a day and note whether there were secretions yesterday and whether there is secretions/ mucus today. If you note secretions on either or both days, you are most likely fertile and should have relations at the time. If both days are dry, then there are fewer chances of pregnancy at this time.
The nature and quantity of cervical mucus can be affected by the use of female hygiene products, douching, sexual intercourse and use of lubricants either during sexual intercourse or at the time of a pelvic exam.
c). Basal body temperature (BBT) method- 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. So we can know retrospectively that ovulation has occurred but it can’t predict in advance when ovulation is going to occur. The most fertile days are the seven days immediately preceding the rise in temperature. You can keep a chart and see in consecutive cycles the earliest and latest days of cycle when the temperature shift happened. Accordingly, start trying for a pregnancy alternate day from 7 days prior to the earliest day until the latest day. Some women despite ovulating regularly may not show a biphasic pattern of BBT.
d). Symptothermal method: it is a combination of two or more methods most commonly BBT and cervical mucus method to better predict ovulation period.
e). Urine test kits to detect Luteinizing hormone levels: Nowadays ovulation prediction kits are available. The kits have test strips to check the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. The test turns positive once the urinary LH level is above a certain threshold during the LH surge. Usually, the test turns positive only on one day, occasionally on two consecutive days. The testing is generally started two days prior to expected ovulation day. With women with regular 28 days cycle, ovulation is expected between days 13- 15. So the testing should start from day 11. In women with cycle range between 26 to 32 days, the ovulation is expected between day 12 and day 18. So the urine testing should start from day 10. The testing is continued until you get a positive result. The test should be done between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. You should avoid taking a large amount of fluids before the test.
The ovulation occurs 12-24 hours after the LH surge and latest within 48 hours. So the maximum fertile days are the one on which the LH surge is detected and the two days after that.
8. What are some other methods of ovulation detection which can’t be done at home but performed in a clinic?
These methods which can’t be performed at home but at a clinic include:
a). Transvaginal ultrasound: The growth of the follicles in the ovaries can be monitored with the help of transvaginal ultrasound. In this, a probe is inserted into the vagina and the sound waves are transmitted to produce an image on the monitor. As the egg develops inside the follicle, fluid fills inside the follicle leading to an increase in the size of the follicle. Ovulation generally occurs after a follicle is more than 18 mm in size. After ovulation, the follicle collapses, margins become less clear& there may be a small amount of free fluid in the pelvis. Ultrasound can be used for timing intercourse.
a). Blood tests to measure hormone levels: Various hormones can be tested to know if ovulation has taken place.
- Progesterone level can be tested a week before the anticipated start of next periods. This hormone is present at low levels before ovulation and after ovulation, there is an increase in its production. So the blood levels also rise.
- It helps in preparing the uterine lining (endometrium) to receive the embryo and attach with it. LH levels can be checked in blood or urine to predict the time of ovulation
- Estrogen is released by the growing follicle and its levels rise rapidly before ovulation. Its levels can be checked in the blood
b). Endometrial biopsy: We can take a small tissue sample of the endometrium and check it under the microscope to see if the effect of progesterone hormone is seen on it. This test is done just before menses are expected.
We hope to have helped provide some important information to you regarding ovulation and cleared some of your doubts and misconceptions. If you have any more questions, you can drop a comment in the box below, call us or email us or follow our YouTube channel.