When Does Ovulation Occur?

Ovulation: What it Is, When it Happens and What to Look For

While it’s impossible for a woman to menstruate without noticing, the process of ovulation is far less obvious and often goes undetected. But if you know what to look for, figuring out when you ovulate doesn’t have to be so mysterious. The process of ovulation begins when the female ovary releases a mature egg. The egg then makes its way down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus where it will be available for any potential sperm that may be hanging around to fertilize it. Barring any special circumstances or medical issues, most women ovulate on a monthly basis. But because all women are different and the timing of ovulation can sometimes fluctuate even between one cycle and another for the same woman, figuring out precisely when ovulation occurs for you requires some level of detective work.

Menstrual Cycle Math

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According to most healthcare professionals and reproductive specialists, the average menstrual cycle is 28 days, and ovulation is most likely to occur 14 days before your next period. The problem with these generic guidelines is that most women are not average. The first step in identifying when ovulation occurs for you personally is to determine the average length of your own menstrual cycle. Ovulation typically occurs at the halfway point between your last period and your next one so once you figure out your average cycle length, you can get a fairly accurate idea of when you are most likely to ovulate. For example, if you have an average menstrual cycle of 32 days, then there is a good chance that you may ovulate 16 days before your next period is due. However, if your cycles are on the shorter side at 25 days, then you can expect to ovulate sometime around 12 or 13 days before your next scheduled period.

Cervical Mucus

Your body is your best guide to when ovulation occurs. The amount, texture and appearance of your cervical mucus are all clues that you can use to determine when ovulation is most likely to occur. Around the time of ovulation, you can expect the amount of cervical mucus produced to increase considerably. It is often slippery and stretchy with an almost egg white-like consistency.

Basal Body Temperature

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Your body temperature upon waking is another useful clue in determining when you might be ovulating. To accurately gauge your basal body temperature (BBT), check your temperature before you get out of bed in the morning and around the same time every day. Basal thermometers are readily available at your local pharmacy and many stores. You will need to chart your temperature each morning in order to determine the pattern that is unique to you and your body. Around the time of ovulation, your basal body temperature should increase around two-tenths of a degree higher than the average temperature you recorded when you were charting your pattern.

Ovulation Length

The process of ovulation is a relatively quick one. Once released from the ovary, the egg is viable for only 12 to 24 hours before it begins to dry up and prepare for expulsion from the body. Since the egg expires within 24 hours of release, fertility experts suggest that timing intercourse for the days just prior to ovulation yields the highest probability of successful fertilization.

Anovulatory Cycles

Ovulation is not always guaranteed. Some women fail to ovulate from time to time, which is called an anovulatory cycle. Women who have irregular periods are more likely to have anovulatory cycles, which can be caused by a number of factors from thyroid disorders to excessive exercise or even high levels of stress. If you have irregular periods or think you may have anovulatory cycles, be sure to check with your doctor.