26 October 2009

Ovulation FAQs

What is ovulation?

Ovulation occurs about halfway through a woman's cycle. The luteinizing hormone rises drastically, triggering the release of the egg. A matured egg is released from the ovary, down the fallopian tube, and into a woman's uterus. Sometimes, more than one egg is released. During ovulation, your egg awaits fertilization. If fertilization does not occur, it is absorbed by the body, triggering a hormonal reaction resulting in a period.

When does ovulation occur?

The general rule of thumb is half-way through your cycle. If you have the so-called average cycle of 28 days, then ovulation would occur on day 14 of your cycle. There are ways to pinpoint ovulation, to maximize your chances of conception. (See also "Charting Your Basal Body Temperature," "A Word About OPKs and Saliva-Scopes," and "Fertility Monitors: A Woman's Best Friend?")

Why do I need to know when I am ovulating?

The closer you are to ovulation, the more fertile you are. So if you want to conceive, you need to know when ovulation is so that you can have unprotected sex on those days. Generally, you want to have sex for five days prior to ovulation, the day of, and the day after.

How do I know when ovulation is happening?

There is a long list of signs and signals your body gives off to tell you you are ovulating. In fact, there are so many, that I have written a whole different article on the subject. Please see "Taking Cues From Your Body: The Signs of Ovulation." In a nutshell, you have to look at your body's at-rest temperature, cervial mucus and the position and firmness of your cervix. There are also tests designed to help you predict when ovluation is going to occur.

Could I be ovulating during my period?

While it is possible, it is highly unlikely. If you are a woman with highly irregular cycles, it may happen that you have your period during ovulation, but it is not the norm. Sometimes, a woman may experience implantation bleeding if fertilization occurs, a few days after ovulation. While it is not a period, it may be mistaken for one.

Can I get pregnant during my period?

Yes, you can. If you have a short cycle and a long period, it may be that you are your most fertile in the last days of your period.

Can I ovulate more than once during a cycle?

No, ovulation only occurs once each cycle. However, multiple eggs can be released. Sometimes, these eggs are released at the same moment, but can also be released at separate times during a 24-hour period. (This is why it is possible to have twins with two different fathers if you have sex with two different men around ovulation.)

Can I ovulate without having a period?

This is completely possible. Periods do not trigger ovulation. In fact, it is the opposite; when your body ovulates and the egg is not fertilized, then a period takes place. Women who are not having periods for one reason or another (such as breastfeeding or who are very underweight) can ovulate at any time without any warning.

Can I have a period without ovulating?

Some women may not ovulate every cycle, meaning she is having an anovulatory cycle. When this happens, no eggs are released and some bleeding still occurs, which may be mistaken for a period. This is Mother Nature's trap that I felt into: I was having "normal" periods since the birth of my daughter. When I was ready to try again, it wasn't until I started charting my temperatures that I realized I was having anovulatory cycles. The bleeding was a hormonal reaction to the fall of estrogen levels. It could also be caused by a build-up in the uterine wall that just cannot survive any longer.

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