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What Most Women Don’t Know About Ovulation

Are you a little fuzzy about ovulation? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that about 40% of women are confused about this aspect of their monthly cycle and how it affects fertility and conception.

To clear the air and give you more control over your own reproductive system, our fertility specialists at IVFMD in Grapevine, Arlington, and Irving, Texas, have compiled this list of facts every woman should know about ovulation.

Understanding your menstrual cycle

Your menstrual cycle is more than just your periods; it’s a constant series of events that prepare your body for pregnancy.

Each cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends on the first day of your next period. Between those days, your hormones fluctuate, and your ovaries repeat the steps to get ready for pregnancy.

What happens during ovulation?

Ovulation occurs when your ovary releases an egg so a sperm can fertilize it, and it all starts in your brain.

Your pituitary gland releases a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which starts the ovulation ball rolling. FSH triggers the follicles in your ovaries to stimulate the eggs inside. The immature egg grows and develops over the next few weeks. When the egg is fully mature, your ovary releases it into the fallopian tube — ovulation.

If you time it right, having sex during this phase of your menstrual cycle allows a sperm to meet the egg, and — voila — fertilization and conception.

What every woman should know about ovulation

Starting a new family or adding to your clan can be exciting, but it can also cause frustration if you don’t understand ovulation. Here are some game-changing tips to help you get pregnant faster.

Have sex before ovulation

Once your ovary releases an egg, it must be fertilized within the next 24 hours, or it loses viability and gets flushed away during your period.

Sperm, on the other hand, stay active and viable for up to five days, so it’s better to have the sperm waiting for the egg than the other way around.

Ideally, plan to have sex about 2-4 days before you ovulate to hit your most fertile time zone.

Know the signs of ovulation

Your body lets you know when ovulation is near. Knowing the signs can help you plan your sexual activity and increase your chances of conception.

Every woman experiences these signs differently, and some may not have any symptoms, but the most common indicators of ovulation are:

  • Vaginal discharge (similar to raw egg whites)
  • Softer, more open cervix that you can feel with your fingertip
  • Elevated basal body temperature, which you can track with an app
  • Increased libido

These signs may be untrustworthy or nonexistent if you don’t have regular periods. In that case, you can take a little help from science.

Ovulation predictor tests can detect a luteinizing hormone (LH), which typically spikes just before ovulation to give your egg a boost in the maturation process. Have sex about 36 hours after the LH surge for your best chance at conception.

You can also ballpark your ovulation using the calendar. If you have regular periods and know your average cycle length, you can estimate your ovulation and have sex during that time.

Ovulation makes you want to have sex

Your body is designed to reproduce, which is what your menstrual cycle is all about. The hormones that prepare your body to conceive and carry a child also give you a nudge in the right direction to make that happen.

This is why most women report an ebb and flow in their desire for sex. These hormones boost your libido at just the right time each month to increase the rate of fertility and keep the human species going.

You may not be ovulating even if you have periods

Many women mistakenly think that having a period means they must also be ovulating. While it’s true that irregular, light, and short periods are red flags that may indicate ovulation problems, it’s also possible to have regular periods and irregular ovulation.

You were born with all your eggs

Female babies are born with about 2 million eggs, but they decrease steadily, and only about 400,000 remain by the time you hit puberty. As the years roll on, your eggs drop in quantity and quality, making it more difficult for women over 35 to conceive.

If you’re closing in on your 35th birthday but aren’t ready for children yet, you can freeze your eggs to preserve your fertility. This is an excellent option for women about to undergo cancer treatments and those with a family history of premature menopause.

Treatment for ovulation problems

Underlying ovulation problems can thwart your family planning. At IVFMD, we offer ovulation induction to jump-start ovulation and help you get pregnant. Call us or reach out online to schedule a consultation with our ovulation experts.

Sy Le, M.D.
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